By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hilmar's Baptista leads Rage U17
Rage U17 pic
Emily Baptista, pictured above playing for the Hilmar Yellowjackets in November, helped her Rage Volleyball club team to a fifth place finish in the USA Junior National Championships. - photo by Journal file photo

Emily Baptista has been a force in volleyball since she stepped foot on the court.

The soon-to-be senior at Hilmar High, who stands 6-foot-2, led the U17 Rage Volleyball Club to a top finish at the USA Junior National Championships which took place at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center this past week.

The Rage U17 squad entered the National Division bracket with high hopes, but their run was cut short when they were booted early Wednesday morning and finished in fifth place.

“Their goal was to get a medal and get on the stand. Last year, this team got a medal in the American Division, one division lower, but they wanted to get it this year,” said U17 head coach Garren Allala.

The Rage were only one match away from playing for a bronze medal, but instead lost to NCVC out of Sacramento in three games.

“I am proud because we had so many injuries this year but at the end it was a hard-fought battle and of course they want to win, but placing fifth is a great accomplishment,” Allala said.

The team earned a bid to compete at Nationals after placing fourth in the Northern California Regional tournament.

“Emily meant so much for our team. I am proud of her because she is such a huge asset to our team,” Allala said. “She is a well-rounded player. She passes well, is steady and scores on her hitting and serving... and she helped lead us in attacking.”

To make things even sweeter for Baptista, after Wednesday's final game, she was named to the All-Tournament team in her age group.

The U17 Rage started their run on Sunday after they competed in the first pool of action.

In it, the team placed first with a perfect 5-0 start.

They were rolling, until the next round when they finally dropped a game.

Losing to Skyline out of Dallas Texas, the Rage were quick to rebuttal and win to advance into the crossover match against a Chicago based volleyball club.

The Rage won the game after dropping the first game 17-25, they toppled Chicago 25-20 followed by a 15-8 score in the third game.

The Rage moved on to the quarterfinal round where they met NCVC of Sacramento for a California showdown.

Rage dropped their first game 17-25 again only to win the second game 25-18, forcing a competitive third game.

Unfortunately, Sacramento came out on top, 15-11, sending Baptista and her U17 Rage teammates home.