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Yellowjackets volleyball advance to sixth straight section final
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Emma Martin of Hilmar High tosses the ball up for an assist during Tuesday’s 3-0 semifinal win over Ripon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs. Martin tallied 37 assists (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Six. That is the number of Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section finals appearances for the Hilmar High Yellowjackets volleyball team after they trounced Trans-Valley League foe Ripon High in Tuesday’s semifinal matchup that ended in a 3-0 win.

“It’s crazy,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “I’ve just been very fortunate… this town really does put out some really good athletes and they were amazing tonight, you saw them… just crazy.”

Mikela Labno, along with the rest of the roster made it difficult for Ripon to even battle.

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Hilmar High’s Julia Gonsalves gets one of her 14 digs from Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Ripon in the Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Labno’s team-high 18 kills and Emma Martin’s team-high 37 assists were helpful and made the three set matches smoother.

“We are just blessed to have such a great team and the defense was there to help us out, back us up and get those kills,” said Labno.

The win is also the eighth straight for Hilmar, including 17 victories in the last 18 games played.

“We never take any team lightly, it doesn’t matter what team we are facing. We watched film on them because they played us and we took notes and strategized how we would play them,” said Harris. “We came out and practiced and they did it… what we talked about they did, it was great.”

Hilmar came out strong in the first set after they went up 11-1.

They closed out the first with the biggest lopsided score at 25-8.

In the second, Hilmar came out on top, 25-16, setting up the closest set of the night.

Ripon took their first lead of any set in the third and they battled back and forth with Hilmar until the final two points.

The third set was within three to four points most of the night, with the game being tied on multiple occasions.

In the end after a 23-23 score, Hilmar got the final two points to secure the sweep heading into the finale.

“The only nerves we had was that it is tough to beat a team three times in a season, but we were confident and we came out strong,” said Hilmar’s Liv Peterson. “In that third our energy was down a bit and got a little ahead of ourselves, but we finished in the end. I am happy that we won, we definitely could have played better in the third game, but I am definitely happy with the game and how we played.”

Hilmar’s Sara Chavez had a pair of blocks, Peterson had two aces and Julia Gonsalves tallied a team-high 14 digs for the game.

“This team has played over 100 sets together, so they really know each other and can keep each other up,” said Harris.

Hilmar will next face No. 2 Colfax in the Section final with a time and location yet to be determined on Saturday. Check for the latest updated brackets.