ATWATER -- The Atwater volleyball team honored its three seniors before Tuesday night's match against Golden Valley.
It was hard for the Falcons' senior trio of Carolyn Schiber, Jalynn Harrison and Sierra Livingston to fight back tears.
The emotion carried onto the court as an inspired Atwater team swept Golden Valley 25-23, 27-25, 25-18 to take sole possession of second place in the Central California Conference.
"It being senior night, we wanted to win for them," said sophomore Hannah Van Warmerdam, who finished with 18 kills, 15 digs and four aces.
"It was great to do that for them. We wanted to take it in three."
The Falcons (9-3 CCC) seized control of the match early and they never relinquished it.
Van Warmerdam and Brigette Berlier (14 kills and 11 digs) did their usual damage.
Schiber set up her hitters all night and finished with 28 assists. Harrison picked up five blocks at the net and Lori Boesch led the way on defense with 17 digs to go a long with three aces.
"We told them before the game this is going to be an emotional night," Atwater coach Toni Garcia said. "We wanted them to use that emotion as energy on the court. Let that fire up your play and they did that."
The Cougars (7-4 CCC) found themselves playing from behind in every game.
Golden Valley had shots to steal the first two games, but came up just short in the end.
The Cougars worked their way back from a 23-19 deficit late in the opening game.
With their top player, Belen Castillo, in the front row late, Golden Valley looked in good shape. Castillo put away two of her team-high 10 kills to pull the Cougars within 23-22. A set violation on Atwater then tied the game at 23-all.
However, a net violation on Golden Valley gave the Falcons a 24-23 lead and Atwater closed out a 25-23 win.
The Cougars again battled back late in the second game, rallying back from a 22-16 deficit to take a 25-24 lead.
Again it was Van Warmderdam coming through with a tip over the GV block for a point to tie the game at 25-all. Berlier then put a kill away to give the Falcons a lead and followed it up with a block to give Atwater the 27-25 win.
"Our passing was just a zoo tonight," Golden Valley coach Matt Thissen said. "It doesn't do you any good to have a height advantage of you're not making passes or getting any blocks.
"Atwater played very, very well. They deserved to win."