A few months ago, the Pacheco volleyball team was ecstatic to just get its first Western Athletic Conference win.
But after Wednesday's 25-15, 26-24, 25-22 sweep over Central Valley, the Panthers are knocking on the door of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
"The bar is set a little higher for them, because I think we understand that we have a chance at playoffs," Pacheco coach Cory Henwood said. "I think that's the new bar for the girls, so they're not going to settle for just a couple of wins. They want to be right in the mix."
A new SJS rule this year state that in addition to most leagues qualifying the top three for the playoffs, teams with a .500 or better league record will qualify. That leaves Pacheco, with a 5-5 record in the WAC, needing one win out of its last two matches -- at home against Los Banos on Monday and on the road at Patterson on Wednesday.
"They see how close they are and how competitive they need to be, and I feel like you see that in their game when they play," Henwood said. "They'll play to the level they need to in order to pull out a victory, which sometimes gives me a heart attack."
Despite the sweep over Central Valley, Henwood nearly had one of those heart attacks after Pacheco gave up an 18-6 lead in the first game before winning by 10 points.
"We let a little bit slide there, and the next two games were far closer than they should have been," he said.
Pacheco survived with a 26-24 second-game win and a 25-22 third-game win. Nicole Terry led the Panthers with 7 kills, and Keana Lee-Mamea added 4 kills, 4 aces and a pair of blocks.
The same night, Los Banos (10-0 WAC) continued its undefeated run through league play with a 25-15, 25-3, 25-11 sweep on the road at Ceres.
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at email@example.com