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Jackets volleyball hungry for TVL title
Hilmar volleyball
Hilmars Haylee Pearce sets the ball for Oliviah Gemperle during Mondays foundation match against Pitman High. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Hilmar High’s volleyball team is back and, for the first time in a long time, the Yellowjackets have height on their side. After tying with Ripon High for second place in the Trans Valley League last season, Hilmar is on a mission for first place and its girls have the weapons to achieve.

“I’m very excited about the talent we have,” Hilmar’s head coach Patti Harris said. “I’m definitely expecting a lot from this team.”

Leading the talented ‘Jacket pack are third year varsity juniors Alexis Alvernaz and Valerie Ewing, last season’s respective All-League and All-District players for Hilmar. The Gemperle twins, Oliviah and Savannah, are also back, serving as team captains in their senior year.

“I have a solid team and a really deep bench,” Harris said.

Fourteen-year-olds Haylee Pearce and Emily Baptista, a sophomore and freshman, have also proven to be key players for Hilmar this season. Pearce has impressed Harris with her court sense and setting abilities while 6-foot-1 Baptista has caught everyone’s eye with both her height and raw talent.

“For 14-year-old girls they are outstanding all around players,” Harris said.

To prepare for league play and another playoff run Hilmar has scheduled a tough pre-season schedule, facing Division I schools from the CCC such as Turlock and Pitman High. Harris hopes the heightened competition will whip her girls into shape and form cohesion in time for her team’s first league match against Modesto Christian High on Sept. 11.

“This year the TVL will be Escalon, Ripon and Hilmar again,” Harris said. “We’ll be battling it out.”

Hilmar plays Big Valley Christian High at home today before hosting Atwater High on Thursday.