Hilmar's varsity boys’ volleyball team is hungrier than ever after experiencing one of the toughest tournaments in the state this last Saturday at Granite Bay High.
The Yellowjackets went into the Granite Bay Varsity Tournament without expectations and came out with a lengthy list of things to improve on.
“We watched St. Francis, who is No. 1 in state, and Granite Bay is phenomenal,” said Hilmar coach Kristen Jones. “We knew we would match with teams from D1 and D2 schools and kids who have played all their life and we just wanted our kids to see a step up. That is why we brought them there to see their potential and what other programs are doing. It was an overall great experience.”
Some of that lesson was put to the test after meeting Buhach Colony for the second time this season on Wednesday night, only this time it wasn't a five-set match, instead they swept the Thunder in straight sets, 3-0 (25-17, 26-24 and 25-17).
“We played them on Friday and we weren't playing to our potential. BC is a solid team and came out flat on Friday,” said Jones about playing them the first time. “Seeing what they did, we made adjustments coming off that Saturday tournament and it all started clicking.”
In the first set, Hilmar led the entire match, never trailing and managed an eight-point victory.
The second set was a fight after the 'Jackets fell down early. Hilmar overcame a six-plus point deficit and squeezed out a close 26-24 win in the second.
“That second was a really close game,” said Jones. “I really feel that Buhach came out and really wanted to take some games from us and swung away. First game they got a feel, but second set was great placing. Second set is usually our worse because we come out intense and get comfortable.”
The 'Jackets never trailed and held on to a secure lead for the entire third set, earning the win by eight points.
“The team finally realized what we were working with and honestly BC kind of fell in that one. I feel we took the wind out of them after the second and led the entire third,” said Jones.
Jones also praised one player in particular who played outside of his comfort zone and played a significant role in the consistency and in finishing two of three sets with kills.
“Our normal hitter Ben Balswick was out sick and we had Kelby Peres play all the way around,” said Jones. “He had the winning kill in the final two sets and played phenomenal for not playing all the way around usually. He normally plays back row and stepped up tonight and recovered well.”
Michael Cardoso led the 'Jackets with 10 kills. Cooper Maynard added seven blocks. Isaac Smith finished with two aces and Josh Silveira added 11 digs. Colton Silveira added 17 assists.
“We have had such a short season with a lot of games packed in and the kids are working so hard and I think going into that Granite Bay tournament, it changed our perspective,” said Jones. “I think they want to constantly get better and seeing how we did we will be doing different things on offense and defense.”
Hilmar is now 17-9 overall for the year with just three scheduled matches left in the regular season, although the playoffs still seem like it’s possible.
“If no playoffs this year, we will come back next year,” said Jones.
Hilmar will next travel on the road to take on Ripon Christian at 5:30 p.m. Monday.