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Yellowjackets clinch Nor Cal title, advance to state final
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The Hilmar High varsity volleyball team celebrates after defeating Shasta on Tuesday in the state regional final, 3-0. Hilmar advances to the CIF State Championship game (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

When the fall season started back in August for local volleyball teams, Hilmar High head coach Patti Harris knew that her team was special.

They proved just how special by earning their second straight Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section title back on Nov. 3, and followed it up by punching their ticket to the D-IV CIF State Championship game after winning the Nor Cal Regional final over Shasta on Tuesday, 3-0.

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The Hilmar High Yellowjackets varsity volleyball team won the Division-IV Nor Cal title after defeating Shasta 3-0 in the regional finals, while advancing to the CIF State Championship game (Photo contributed by Michelle Peterson).

“This team… this is just a great team; they really are — long journey from where they started and where we are ending, every game, every match,” said Harris. “[They’re] just getting better and better and there is really not a superstar out there, they all play well out there.”

Hilmar started the season with arguably one of the most challenging schedules for a team with an enrollment of under 680.

“We prepared for every game. We have a game plan and the girls did a good job,” said Harris.

They reached the D-IV SJS Championship game for six consecutive seasons under the leadership of Harris, winning the last two.

This year they advance to the state championship game; and it happened quite convincingly.

Hilmar kicked off state league play last Thursday against all-girls private school from Salinas—Notre Dame.

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Hilmar’s Genavieve Fontes (4) and Liv Peterson (10) go up for a block during Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Shasta to advance to the D-IV CIF State Championship game (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

It was the biggest test for Hilmar as they went five sets and ended up squeaking out the 3-2 victory after playing one of the more mistake heavy games in playoffs.

They turned around to topple University Prep 3-1 on Saturday before topping Shasta on Tuesday in straight sets—their easiest win in state so far.

The first set was a breeze as Hilmar won it 25-15 after never trailing.

Shasta fought back in the second set and kept it close before Hilmar pulled away in the end to win it 25-22.

Finally, in the third set it looked like a close call when the first five points were scored.

Eventually Hilmar pulled away and won the third with ease, 25-11.

Liv Peterson tallied a team-high 15 kills for Hilmar while Emma Martin finished with 34 assists.

Hilmar’s Julia Gonsalves added 26 digs and Michaela Petersen added three aces. Genavieve Fontes finished with three blocks.

“They play so well together, they really do,” said Harris of her team.

Hilmar will take on San Luis Obispo at a neutral site yet to be announced at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“We don’t know anything going into that state final,” Harris added. “These state tournaments are super hard since we don’t know of the other sections and how good they are…but we prepare for every game.”