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Year two ends well for Hilmar boys volley
Sophomore Ethan Aiken of Hilmar High goes up for a kill. Hilmar beat West Campus 3-1 in the first round of the Division-III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs on Tuesday then fell to No. 1 El Dorado, 3-0, on Thursday. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/ The Journal

The Hilmar High varsity boys volleyball team reached the second round of the postseason for a second consecutive year.

Despite a hard-fought effort, the Yellowjackets fell to No. 1 seed El Dorado, 3-0.

The year didn’t conclude without some positives that have head coach Fatima Handy thrilled about the years to come.  

“The amount they were able to learn and grow was great,” said Handy. “We made El Dorado play in the rally but when they got an ace, they got it and let it slip away. Their team is made up of a lot of club players so they have more experience than we do. But coming in with the right mindset is what we try to teach our kids and it’s a work in progress.”

In their first-round matchup on Tuesday night from home, No. 8 Hilmar hosted No. 9 West Campus.

The first two sets were all Yellowjackets as they won both, 25-18.

In the third set they went through a hiccup as they fell 25-12 but rallied back for the best set of the match at 25-14.

Once the win concluded, coach Handy and her squad celebrated but not for long as they had to square off with No. 1 seed, of the entire bracket, in less than 48 hours.

Hilmar traveled on the road to El Dorado in Placerville and gave all they could against the Sierra Valley Conference champs in three sets.

El Dorado won the first set 25-12, then Hilmar went up 13-11 in the second set.

Hilmar fell 25-19 in the second as they went into the third with some momentum. ED managed to win the third 25-17.

“The kids had a great time, gave playing time to as many kids as we could but we didn’t drop a set to anyone in league except for Ripon Christian,” said Handy. “I told the kids that if they took a video two months ago how we look like to now, our growth of the game… it’s great. This was a successful season because they enjoyed their season and built on it.”

Hilmar closes the year with an overall record of 16-20 and 6-2 in league. They also won five of their last seven games.

One of the things that Handy has emphasized on for the upcoming years are unforced errors.

She knows that in order to do well, they must limit the mistakes but a bulk of her squad this year were newcomers, especially considering it’s only the second season of the program’s existence.

The Trans Valley League runners-up are hoping to return some players after graduating eight seniors from this year’s roster.

“I have four kids returning who played in our matches and we have experience now to get these kids to play in big games and all I can ask for is to be relevant,” said Handy. “I am excited because we’ve been building our program.”

This year’s squad also yielded five all-league selections but the names remain unknown at the moment according to coach Handy who will make the announcement next week.