For the third straight year Hilmar High advanced to the Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section Volleyball Championship match and for the third year in a row they fell to hands of Sonora High after a 3-0 sweep at Tokay High on Saturday, (15-25, 22-25 and 21-25).
“They didn't have much of a weakness,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “They are solid, defensively they picked up everything and were very good, picking up digs, very good just mixing it around all together and they were smart with everything.”
In the first set it seemed like Hilmar was set for a big defeat much like last year (2014) after starting off very sluggish and eager.
Players were missing touches and their positioning was not on point as they had been in consistent wins.
The bizarre start, which could have been due to the nerves of losing your third straight title, led to Hilmar's 10-point loss in the first set.
“I am sure there was,” Harris said about the nerves. “Honestly I just wanted them to come out and play their game and do the best they can, that’s what I wanted them to do, you always want your players to do that and not walk with their heads down knowing they did not do very well some felt they didn't so it was tough... it was hard.”
Althought the second and third sets were not as hard as the first.
Hilmar began to build some momentum before Sonora would either dig it or kill it and stop the it from shifting even with the help of Hilmar's Emily Baptista who is set to become a Division-I star next year after signing to University of Pacific.
“We honestly just couldn’t get anyone to get their heads in the game early, especially the first game,” said Harris.
Hilmar closed in on Sonora in the second set, eventually cutting the lead to one-point on countless occasions before Sonora just pulled out with a 4-2 run to win the second.
The third set was the only time Hilmar held a comfortable lead, going up by as many as four points at 17-13 before Sonora called their only timeout of the match—and that's all it took.
Baptista finished with 18 kills and two aces and Hannah Pearce added 26 assists and two aces. Avery Martin tallied 41 digs and Sonora closed out the game with a 12-4 run to win their third straight D-IV Section title.
“Then we started to come back in the second and third but you cant let down at all,” said Harris. “You need to keep pushing and pressing through it, we just would have moments when we would kind of do well.”
The 'Jackets will next compete in the Nor-Cal state tournament with an opponent yet to be determined at a time yet decided. For more information visit cifsjs.org.
“We will find out the seeding soon and will find out who we play on Tuesday with a Monday practice and we will see what the Section heads put us in and see how we do,” Harris added.