The Hilmar High varsity volleyball team’s historical 2017 season came to an end on Wednesday night as the Yellowjackets fell to No. 9 Alhambra High in the opening round of the Division-III CIF State Tournament, 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 23-25 and 16-25).
“We were bumped up to D-III, and that was a school that is bigger than us enrollment wise. I am not sure why they bumped us up, but I told our girls it was a privilege,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “We just didn’t let that bother us going into the game and we just had to play our game.”
The home game started out well for the Yellowjackets, as Hilmar proved in the first set why they were Section Champions and earned a spot in an ultra-competitive bracket.
In the opening set, the pace was quick and both sides were contesting and earning every point, digging to the ground as there was a loud uproar for every point scored.
Up 18-16, Hilmar managed to go on a 7-5 run to close out the match with a four-point victory.
Alhambra rallied the next set and won it convincingly, 25-19, to even the series at 1-1 after two sets played.
The third set proved to be the most pivotal and closest of the four played.
Alhambra went on a 6-0 run to start things off before Hilmar fought their way back into the match to tie it at 14-14.
The momentum shifted in the later stages of the set as Alhambra pulled away to a 21-16 lead.
Eventually the lead was cut to 24-23, but Alhambra captured the final point to win it by two.
“They are a solid team and they have some really good solid players and we had some tough time shutting down their top players,” said Harris.
Alhambra’s strength and consistency, along with Hilmar’s sporadic play led to a nine-point loss in the fourth set, dropping the match in four.
“We definitely had moments and they had moments as well,” said Harris. “They were matched up pretty tight. When you have close teams like that you see who is on and who is off and I am just so proud of the girls and all they have accomplished, can’t say enough. Had so much fun coaching them since they have been such a fun group of girls.”
The 2017 Hilmar volleyball group didn’t conclude the year without making history after they captured the program’s first Sac-Joaquin Section banner after winning the Division-IV bracket on Saturday, beating Bret Harte 3-0.
Wednesday’s state game was also the first time the Yellowjackets have hosted a state playoff match.
“First section title, first home state playoff game, these are all firsts for us, especially winning Sections, so there is nothing to be sad about,” said Harris. “… this team is special and, like I said before, we started school and I knew there was a special thing going on with this team and obviously they got it. Been a lot of fun, enjoyed every moment with them.”
Hilmar closes out the year with an overall record of 29-14.
In Wednesday’s game Hilmar’s Mariah Ahid finished with 15 kills and a team-high 22 digs. Hannah Pearce finished off with 43 assists. Michaela Peterson added three aces. Erin Benning and Olivia Peterson capped off the game with four blocks.