It was the most successful season a Hilmar High volleyball team has ever had. Unfortunately, the Yellowjackets' historic run came to an end on Saturday in the second round of the CIF Division-IV state championship tournament.
The ‘Jackets were off their rhythm from the start and it wasn’t until the third game that they began to get in any groove, but by then it was too little too late as they faltered to a strong Menlo in straight sets, (25-10, 25-11 and 25-19).
“Menlo is outstanding; they have a tremendous offense and defense just very good overall,” Hilmar head coach Patti Harris said. “The girls didn’t play their game in the first couple games, not like they normally play. They struggled from the get-go.”
Playing away and just after the turkey day festivities in the first game, the ‘Jackets came out rusty and off, missing serves. Things did not improve much in the second as the Knights demolished all hopes of a kill with constant digs and blocking.
“We struggled defensively and our girls were just not there,” Harris said. “I couldn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t know what to do.”
The ‘Jackets, who had been extremely consistent all year in their ability to play from behind, knew that one more surge was a possibility as they began the third game with a different mindset.
“In the third we started to pick it up, but then would lose it again,” Harris said. “Mentally, we were not there. It is unfortunate, because Menlo has solid hitters, setters and digging. We tried to play their holes, we made big plays on the court but they still beat us.”
In their toughest match of the year, Hilmar also came away with the lowest statistics of the year as Emily Baptista had 13 kills, Haylee Pearce had 18 assists, Val Ewing 18 digs.
“[It was an] unbelievable season; the girls did a lot of great things this year. We will come back next year; it will be different but I will still have some key players,” Harris said. “Can’t complain because we made a lot of history, we did a great job all season and sometimes you come up against a top team like this, and I wish we could’ve played better, I was not upset I am just proud of the girls for what the accomplished all year and I told them.”