For the first time in school history, Hilmar High’s volleyball team will move on to the sectional finals after hosting an extremely talented Bear River High team that gave the Yellowjackets all they could handle, taking the match into five sets.
It wasn’t easy for the ‘Jackets as they lacked that spark by the third game down, 2-1, but coach Harris knew exactly what to say as she mentioned to her girls that their game is all they need to focus on.
Hilmar responded by executing at crucial times in the fourth and fifth sets and that proved to be the difference as the ‘Jackets nudged a tight one over the Bruins, (25-23, 20-25, 10-25, 25-19, and 18-16).
“I have a lot of faith in this team, they let up but they do not give up. They never nosedived and they can always start a new game and not look back,” Hilmar head coach Patti Harris said. “I told the girls that it’s a new game and to play right now together and (it's) how you play not how they (Bear River) played.”
After getting blown out in the third set 10-25 and up 2-1, the Bruins had all the momentum and it didn’t seem that they were going to let down, but the strong and consistent play from the ‘Jackets team lifted them in the fourth as they won by six points.
“We struggled in that third set and it kind of got to their heads,” Harris said. “Our girls then came out and were powerful and they hit and pounded away.”
Hilmar earned every point they got, but so did Bear River, as both defenses were on point along with rare misses or serves. It was a game of who would make the first mistake at a key point in the game and it wouldn’t be the ‘Jackets.
“Bear River is a great team, I knew going in that it would be close and head on; it was a matter of who would make the least amount of errors to win this game and it just went back and forth,” Harris said. “Both teams don’t give up.”
The final set was a nail biter as both offenses were going back and forth until the match read 16 apiece. Crucial digs from Hilmar’s Valerie Ewing and Taylor Marcelino proved to be enough in the end as they came out on top by two.
“These girls (Hilmar) never give up no matter how bad they are down. The can come back and I have seen it all season,” Harris said. “In the fifth set, when we were tied, it was just crazy I was a wreck and couldn’t think straight. Our girls were hitting smarter and didn’t make serving errors in the last game and played very tight, that made us go to the top.”
The 'Jackets were led by sophomore star Emily Baptista, who had a game-high 37 kills, and Haylee Pearce, who added 51 assists. Ewing finished the game with 33 digs.
“It is just crazy that were in the finals, but like I said before I just had this feeling that this team could really do something and here we are I am so excited for these bunch of girls,” Harris said. “It is such an honor to be their coach because we had so much fun together and I am so glad it’s not over yet. Now we gotta practice to get ready for Sonora.”
Hilmar will face the Division IV number one seeded Sonora High at 6 p.m. on Thursday at UC Davis.