Volleyball team falls to visiting Hilmar, ending post-season

By David Witte / sports@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 10, 2012 

For the second year in a row, the Los Banos volleyball team welcomed to its gym a dangerous team disguised as a low seed to open the playoffs.

And for the second year in a row, that team stunned the Tigers by booting them from the bracket.

This year it was No. 11 Hilmar that upset sixth-seeded Los Banos in a five-set upset by the scores of 19-25, 25-16, 25-15, 23-25, 15-11.

"I'm proud of the girls. This team played together all year as a team. They stuck together," Los Banos coach Greg Soliz said. "I feel bad for them because they're a good team, and to lose a five-set game is tough."

Hilmar freshman outside hitter Emily Baptista changed the game, racking up 29 kills and getting Hilmar points when the Yellowjackets desperately needed them. LB's Jade Fachin and Monica Mendiola each scored 12 kills, the first time all year that Fachin did not lead the Tigers in kills.

"We came more prepared this time," Fachin said. "We played this team before so we've seen how we can compete with them, but we've gotten a lot better this season. We expected to go into a fifth game and win. We put up a good battle."

Los Banos took the first game fairly easily despite libero Kassandra Gaxiola, the Tigers' leader on defense, coming off the court with a nosebleed after colliding with a teammate. Hilmar took easy control of the second and third games and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth before LB fought back to take a 10-9 lead on a Hilmar error.

"We played at the very beginning of preseason, and we went four games with them, and as the season goes on teams get better as they start gelling," Hilmar coach Patti Harris said. "So going into this game, we weren't like, oh yeah, we've got this."

The teams battled down the stretch of the fourth game, with seven ties and five lead changes before Mendiola scored a kill to put the game away and tie the match 2-2.

But after Hilmar took a 4-3 lead in the fifth game, the Tigers weren't able to recover despite keeping it close.

Regardless of the loss, the Tigers still see 2012 as a successful season.

"The girls were undefeated in league, league champions," Soliz said. "You can't take that away from the girls."

"We played more as a team. We have bonded," Fachin said. "It's not all about skill sometimes. It's about getting to know your team and having a bond. That trust."

Pacheco also left the playoffs in the first round, dropping a 3-0 decision to No. 5 Rio Americano in Division III.

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at sports@losbanosenterprise.com

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