Hilmar High’s varsity volleyball fall season came to a close on Saturday from Santiago Canyon College at the CIF Division-IV State Championship game when the Ye llowjackets fell to San Luis Obispo, 3-2. While the loss snapped their win-streak, the Yellowjackets ended the year as the most successful team in program history.
“We are going into record books regardless,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “The girls had all these great accomplishments this year… In my tenure, most successful team in program history. Six years ago, we were the first to reach the section final and then last year we were the first to win a section and then this year first to win Nor Cal and then reach state final. Trying to stay positive for them and look at all the good things.”
As always, Harris stayed optimistic through any tough circumstances, this included losing in four straight Sac-Joaquin Section Championship games, prior to winning the last two.
Her consistency and work ethic were instilled in her squad each and every year since Harris has been there.
From 2011 to this past season, Harris’ Yellowjackets have gone 87-7 in league play.
They have only lost league games in three of those seasons, finishing perfect and winning five TVL titles in the last six years.
Since 2011, Hilmar has won 249 games under Harris’ leadership, including seven seasons of 25 wins or more.
Unfortunately, this year’s team had their season come to a close in second place, but that didn’t mean that their success didn’t go unnoticed this year.
They won their second consecutive D-IV Sac-Joaquin Section title and won their first ever Nor Cal Regional title.
Hilmar was facing a SLO team that competed at the Division-II level in their section. Hilmar was D-IV, but enrollment-wise should technically be at least D-V.
It didn’t matter as the ‘Jackets were riding a 12-game winning streak heading into the state finale.
This game was also the earliest of them all, with an 11 a.m. start.
Hilmar arrived two hours prior to the start to get a feel for the environment and all seemed well.
This after getting a sendoff the day before from the town of Hilmar.
“The high school and elementary did a human tunnel, girls walked behind and they walked through the entire campus, real nice; it’s Hilmar, just how they do things, so awesome,” said Harris.
The Yellowjackets started strong on Saturday, winning 25-22 in the first, then slipped and lost the second, 25-23, only to win the third 25-22.
“Of course, we were underdogs, they were home and we were visitors. It’s good to win the first game, but they adjusted, not sure if they had film, maybe they did,” said Harris. “We made some errors, missed four in the first game; eight missed serves for the game. Every point matters.”
Hilmar fell by 14 points in a 25-11 game in the fourth.
“Missed a big serve in the second and that took some air from us, I felt it from the girls,” said Harris. “Mental errors hurt us. Took the energy out of the second game and weird errors as well. Struggling a little bit in the third still. In the fourth we shut down, and they just couldn’t get into their groove. We made several errors in a row and I tried to settle them down, but they didn’t recover from the previous.”
In the fifth, SLO won 15-9, to earn the state banner and trophy.
Mikela Labno tallied a game-high 23 kills while teammate Liv Peterson added 14. Emma Martin finished with a team-high 41 assists while Hilmar had 88 digs as a team.
Hilmar only graduates two players and is expected to return the rest of the group and add on some JV standouts next year.
“I have most of the team back besides two, but we have some good players coming up as well, pretty much almost the same team, majority will be solid next year for sure, seven seniors next year,” Harris added.
Hilmar closes out their year with a 35-13 overall record and ranked No. 125 in California.