HILMAR — Fast starts are nothing new to the Hilmar volleyball team.
The Yellowjackets earned the No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs, in part, because of their ability to jump on teams early.
Its carrying that intensity over into the second set that has troubled them. That pattern continued in Thursday nights quarterfinal match as Hilmar eased up on the throttle enough to allow No. 7 Ripon Christian to find its legs.
Things tightened up after that, but the Yellowjackets managed to grind out a 25-12, 19-25, 26-24, 25-15 victory at home.
Hilmar will face No. 3 Bear River, which defeated Los Banos 3-0, in the semifinals next Tuesday. The two teams split a pair of matches earlier in the season.
The first set we normally come out pretty strong, sophomore outside hitter Emily Baptista said. We have a lot of energy and play with a lot of confidence. The second set we need to work on.
For whatever reason, we just let up a little bit. Tonight, that helped get them going, but at least we finished strong.
The Hilmar offense spread the love in the opening set with Baptista (five kills), Brittney Fielder (three), Alexis Alvernaz (two) and Lexie Victoria (two) all swinging well.
Fielder and Victoria each picked up a pair of kills during a 6-0 run that gave the Yellowjackets (36-7) a commanding 17-8 lead. Victoria finished the set off with an ace and the Hilmar crowd was rocking.
The focus and execution werent quite the same in the second set, and Ripon Christian (16-9) took advantage with a quick 5-1 start. The lead didnt last, but it was the confidence boost the Knights needed to fight their way back into the match.
Teagun Manus (team-high 14 kills and 14 digs) took over for RC down the stretch. The senior recorded three big kills, a block and an ace as the Knights closed set two with a 7-1 run.
Were a pretty young team, Ripon Christian coach Kara Ledeboer said. Weve only got four girls with any playoff experience, so it took us a little while to get going.
We never quite got our offense in rhythm, but I was pleased with the way we fought back.
A sloppy, but intense third set likely decided the match.
Baptista (a match-high 25 kills) tormented RC with her combination of big swings and well-timed tips as Hilmar built a 15-11 lead, but that was as much separation as either team would get.
Behind the trio of Manus, Andie Shelton (11 kills, team-high 40 assists) and Dani Erdelatz, Ripon Christian refused to go away, tying the set 24-24. A service error put Hilmar back in front, and Baptista put the set away with an ace.
RC never recovered. Four straight aces out of Haylee Pearce (match-high 41 assists and six aces) broke open the fourth set and Hilmar didnt look back.
It was nice to get some serves going at the end, but weve never missed serves like this, Hilmar coach Patti Harris said. This one was a little bit sloppy at times, but we did what we had to do to move on.
PITMAN 3, OAK RIDGE 0 Pitman High advanced to the Division I semifinals with a 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 victory over fifth-seeded Oak Ridge. Lindsey Vander Weide had 16 kills and Maddy Halteman added 38 assists for the Price (33-4), which faces top-seeded Granite Bay on Tuesday. Ashleigh Phelps also helped guide Pitman with14 kills.
SONORA 3, COLFAX 0 Shannon Friend had 13 kills and Bella Bergamaschi 27 kills to lift top-seeded Sonora past Colfax 25-13, 25-14, 25-22. Bailey Henington added 11 digs for the Wildcats, who will play host to fifth-seeded Escalon in a Tuesday Division 4 semifinal.
TURLOCK CHRISTIAN 3, NEW LIFE CHRISTIAN 0 Sarah Amaral had 11 kills to lead the Eagles over New Life 25-11, 25-2, 25-11. TC will host Tuesday's Division 6 semifinal.