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Jackets volleyball advance to fourth straight D4 Section final
Hilmar Volleyball 2
The Hilmar varsity volleyball team overcame a 2-0 deficit to topple Bret Harte, 3-2, in Tuesdays Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

No. 2 Hilmar volleyball overcame a 2-0 deficit in Tuesday’s Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal match with No.3 Bret Harte to win it 3-2 and advance to their fourth consecutive section final.

“It’s exciting… it’s been tough the last few years,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “Now we go against Ripon, we know they are solid and full of seniors and seasoned.”

“It feels good and we are ready for this, we worked on it and we are ready to go to Sections, we want to win after being there three years in a row… this is the year,” said Hilmar’s Hannah Pearce.

Hilmar didn’t start off how they ended.

Their first two sets were filled with sloppy play followed by Bret Harte playing in top form which led to back-to-back set wins from the visiting team.

Down 2-0 after losing 25-20 and 25-23 in the first two sets, Harris decided to share some motivating words with her team, “I told them if they want to go to the final and play Ripon again, they need to play like the team we are because we didn’t in the first two sets.”

It only took the word, “Ripon,” to get the Yellowjackets motivated again.

Ripon toppled Hilmar twice in Trans-Valley Leauge play during the year, losing 3-0 and 3-1 in both contests.

“In the huddle, obviously we were doubted all year since we lost a few critical players and we wanted to prove everyone wrong and it motivated us and the possibility of playing Ripon was also motivating,” said Hilmar’s Mariah Ahid.

The ‘Jackets were able to rebuttal confidently in the third set, forcing Bret Harte to play out of sync.

Brittany Yarnell, Miranda Gray, Kassidy Mendes, Erin Benning, Olivia Peterson, Pearce and Ahid stepped up their game and finally went up in the third set for the first time and managed to come out with a 25-21 win in the third.

Hilmar came out on fire in the fourth set and managed to roll through a 25-19 win as the crowded student section went wild heading into the fifth and final set.

“I think we were a bit nervous and got into our heads and made mistakes left and right but soon as we picked it up, everything went well and kept it going,” said Pearce. 

The fifth set was wild from the start and the crowd made it clear as the student section was erupting from the first point to the last.

Hilmar started off 4-0 and never let go of the lead as they crushed Bret Harte in a 15-8 final to win three sets in a row and advance to their fourth straight section title game.

Peterson added three blocks. Gray finished with 29 digs and Pearce added a game-high 46 assists. Mariah Ahid added 23 kills and three aces.

Ripon and Hilmar will square off for the third time this year for the Section title from Tokay High at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We are ready,” said Pearce when asked about facing Ripon for the third time this year.

“Anything can happen in girls’ volleyball; we can get in their heads any minute and I told the girls to cheer and wake up,” Harris added.