Just 13 days before their regular season match on the court, Turlock and Hilmar high volleyball teams met for a scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon, looking for a leg-up before real competition begins.
Hilmar’s home field advantage was evident with a rowdy crowd that caused the Turlock Bulldogs to get rattled early on, missing serves and routine plays by inches.
“The girls looked sharp. It doesn’t look like it’s the beginning of the season but most definitely we've got some things to work on, but we knew that coming in and we will just keep doing what we do,” said Turlock head coach Amber Castillon.
For Hilmar, last year's Division IV Section runner-ups, they knew where to expose the Bulldogs early on, executing their game plan behind the force that is Emily Baptista.
“Playing them [Turlock] was a lot of fun. It was back and forth because they have some good players and hitters, everyone was going after the ball. Nothing was dropping. Just fun to watch,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “We still have little things we're trying to figure stuff out but I felt the girls had fun.”
Baptista, as she always has been, was consistent on the court, amassing several kills in the process over the 45 minute match.
Sophomores Mariah Ahid and Hannah Pearce were dependable for the Yellowjackets as well, providing great back up for Baptista and last year’s Trans Valley League champions.
“This was also the first time I had all my starters out there for a fair amount of time,” Harris said. “I was happy for the team and all we can do is just go uphill from here.”
Turlock’s Julia Handy, Jadyn Tubbs and Emily Romo were the big playmakers against Hilmar, for a Bulldog team that looks to be improved, coming off a 22-12 season last year.
“Being able to see it all together, that was big for us,” Castillon said. “It was close. It was definitely close. We saw some little weaknesses on our side and one of those things is being able to handle a loud crowd, but once we turned that around, then it wasn’t bothering them anymore.”
“I felt we got a lot out of this and the girls pushed and fought and I wanted to see them being challenged and they did well,” Harris said. “Even though there are glitches, they still pressed and didn’t let down on their game.”
Hilmar will host Turlock in a preseason matchup at 6 p.m. Sept. 8.
Hilmar’s first game of the regular season will be away against Los Banos at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The first contest for Turlock will be at home as they host Tracy at 6 p.m. Thursday.