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Yellowjackets clinch playoff spot in inaugural year for boys volleyball
Hilmar Volleyball 1
The 2017 Hilmar High varsity boys volleyball team shakes hands during Wednesdays 3-1 win over Ripon Christian. In their inaugural season, Hilmar managed to make the playoffs with a 23-9 overall record. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Hilmar was able to clinch a spot in the postseason in their first year after defeating Ripon Christian and Mountain House in back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday.

This gave them the unofficial league title with a 2-0 record, and the entire community including a huge support system with the coaches, parents and students couldn't be any happier.

“Apparently, that was our league... a round robin/TVL and so if we did have a league, it would be RC and Mountain House in it,” said Hilmar head coach Kristen Jones. “We won’t get a banner but technically we are league champs for TVL boys’ volleyball if we were to have a league.”

Hilmar took their season by storm and went head first, earning every point and every victory. It all resulted in a 23-9 overall record.

“Honestly coming in, we just really wanted to build a program and get the word out that we are serious with what we are doing and make the foundation,” said Jones. “We had no thoughts of playoffs and never spoke of it until we started seeing the team come together and the talent for a first-year program.”

There was no prior playing ability according to Jones and the kids came in with little to no experience in volleyball.

“These kids came in not knowing anything and for that to be where we are, a 23-9 record and playing tough teams, they very much deserve to be in playoffs,” said Jones.

Hilmar also closed out the season, winning seven straight matches, including five of seven in straight sets.

Wednesday's match got a little choppy at times despite the win. Hilmar barely won the opening set 25-23, followed by a 25-17 win in the second.

They fell to RC in the third, 28-26, before finally closing it out in the fourth with a score of 25-12.

“The boys came out really nervous in this game,” said Jones. “I don't think they settled in. They were a little flat and came out real nervous in the second, but picked it up and the third was really flat and that fourth is when you saw Jacket ball. That is when you saw we started to play to our potential.”

Needing a win the next day to secure a postseason spot, Hilmar came out against MH and took it to them, earning the victory in straight sets, 3-0 (25-12, 25-13 and 25-16). The first two sets were a bit easier than the third, when Hilmar went down by six points.

Hilmar was comfortable according to Jones, but Colton Silveira was able to begin a rally by serving two aces and got quick points up on the board.

“I never thought we would be here, so ecstatic and looking forward to the playoffs,” said Jones.

Hilmar's Michael Cardoso led all in the game with eight kills. Ben Balswick added seven, while Cooper Maynard and Issac Smith tallied five kills apiece out of the team total 28.

“I don’t think they realized how serious this was until we started playing. Their commitment was great,” said Jones. “I can't explain how impressed and proud I am of them with how they’ve been performing all season, doing a phenomenal job.”

Silveira also added three aces and a game-high 26 assists, while Maynard added four of the team’s six blocks. Joshua Silveira added the most digs with eight.

“None of this would be possible without Jessica Walley, Ryan Nichols, Andrew Mueller and Frank Marques,” Jones added. “I am very grateful for the opportunity, but it’s not just me. I have amazing coaches sitting next to me and I have coach Marques, who is a fantastic coach and I look up to him.”

The Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs will start on the second week of May with an opponent yet to be named and a time and specific date yet to be determined.