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Jackets volleyball top Orestimba in playoffs for sixth straight win
Hilmar volley
Hilmar senior Haylee Pearce looks to add on one of her 39 assists in Tuesdays CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament opener against Orestimba at home. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

The Hilmar High volleyball team entered the CIF Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Girls Volleyball Tournament on Tuesday as the number two seed and heavy favorites. The Yellowjackets lived up to their hype, defeating  number 15 seed Orestimba High, 3-0, (25-13, 25-18 and 25-17).

However, it wasn't all easy going.

“This win is a wake-up call for us that we need to get it together for the games to come,” said junior co-captain Emily Baptista.

“I think our girls could’ve done a better job. We missed a lot of serves, about seven misses, and we haven’t done that all season,” said Hilmar coach Patti Harris. “It was hard tonight too, though, because it was a holiday and we had no school and it took us out of the routine and we were slow.”

Hilmar started off the night with a rather satisfying victory in the first set after taking it to the Warriors and winning by 12 points.

The second set gave the 'Jackets their biggest surprise as they found themselves down 6-9 before coach Harris called a timeout to respond.

“Since the first game was a bit easier for us, we seemed to let down and got a little overconfident but then as they started to get points we knew we needed to step up our game,” Baptista said. “I think we had a hard time in the middle since we were not communicating as effectively.”

The team quickly turned things around as they responded well to the timeout and bounced right back into the game, taking it to the Warriors with a strong finish to end the second with a seven point victory.

“Coach Harris reminds us of things we need to work on every time which is communication,” said Baptista. “She is there for us all the time when we have problems and always picks up our spirits. She always reminds us of what we need to do.”

In the final game, the ‘Jackets were on fire when they started off but, once more, they let their guard down and let Orestimba see some light until they finally closed it out after nearly allowing a late game resurgence from the Warriors.  

Baptista, who is always a consistent standout player, also had a tough time missing opportunities on easy plays but that didn’t stop her from leading the team with 24 kills, four aces and two blocks for the night.

Led by one of three seniors, Haylee Pearce, also a co-captain, finished the night with 39 assists while her little sister Hannah Pearce topped out with a team-high in digs (15).

“I told the girls that they cannot be missing serves or making mistakes,” Harris said. “Everything has to be on key because as we go forward, every mistake we make will affect the game at the end so we need to clean up our errors. The girls made a lot of mental errors but I knew we could’ve done a lot better.”

Hilmar will host the seventh seeded team in Bear River at 7 p.m. Thursday.