In a volleyball game that pitted two of the better small schools in the Central Section against each other, the Yosemite High Badgers (16-1) hosted and beat the Minarets Mustangs (3-2) in three sets Sept. 6 (25-15, 26-24, 25-22) before a crowd of more than 500.
Although many of the players on these teams are friends off the court, and have played together over the years on club teams, those friendships are put on hold come game time.
Yosemite’s Tiffany Cacy, with 13 assists on the night, acknowledged the friendships but after the game said it’s those friendships that motivated the Badgers to want to beat the Mustangs even more.
“Yosemite was the losing team for a few years, but lately we’re the ones to beat,” Cacy said, hands still trembling with excitement after the match.
Yosemite’s young team (nine juniors, two sophomores), currently ranked No. 3 in D-III by the Fresno Bee, opened the night with a fairly easy 25-15 first set win after jumping out to a 8-3 lead. The Mustangs closed to within two (10-8), but the Badgers went on a 5-1 run to make the score 15-9. A 5-2 Badger run extended the lead to 20-11.
It looked like the Badgers would run away with the second set as well, building a quick 7-1 lead, but the Mustangs closed the gap to 12-10, before taking a 15-14 lead, their first lead of the night. The game was tied at 17 all when Yosemite went on a 7-2 run, making the score 24-19 - one point from winning the set. But it was the Mustangs who scored the next five points to tie the game at 24-24.
Yosemite won the set (26-24) on two kill shots from Siena Oswald.
Minarets, with eight seniors and two juniors, also made the third set close after falling behind. After a 6-6 start, Minarets allowed Yosemite to go on a 12-1 run (18-7), before going on a 15-6 run of its own to cut the Yosemite lead to 24-22.
Yosemite won the last point, the set and the match (25-22) on a missed Minarets serve.
“We don’t finish games very well and it’s something we are are working on,” Yosemite’s Oswald said. “As bad as we wanted to beat Minarets, out goal was to play out game because we knew if we did that everything would click.”
“Our team is getting better and better every day,” said Badger sophomore Sayda Taylor. “This team is best friends off the court and that shows in the way we play together on the court. I think tonight we played the best we have all season.”
“This is just the beginning of where we are going this season.” added Cacy.
Yosemite’s Savannah Bohna had 8 kills on the night, and Taylor and Rachel Loveland had 6 each, with Oswald getting 5 including the two that ended the second set.
Karee Smith had 4 blocked shots and 3 kills. Loveland also had 3 blocks.
Junior Julie Castleman had 8 kills and 14 digs for the Mustangs and senor Katie Low recorded 8 kills and 9 digs.
“Tonight was a tough loss,” said Mustang Coach Jessica Carter. “Yosemite was able to get their hands defensively on a lot of balls and defense wins games. We were able to fight hard but its tough to come back from such big deficits late in the game. We beat ourselves.”
Carter, however, is optimistic about her team moving forward. “There is always room for improvement ... every game is a learning curve and a chance to grow,” Carter said. “We just need to keep our hard work ethic in practices and it will surely show in future games.”
The Mustangs were ranked No. 3 in D-IV by the Bee last week.
The Badger JV team beat Minarets 25-14, 25-18, with the Mustangs taking the freshman game 25-9, 25-14.
Badgers win Mammoth Tournament
At the Sept. 9 and 10 Mammoth Tournament, the Badgers went 7-0 to bring the championship trophy home while extending its overall win/loss record to 17-1.
The Badgers beat Lake Arrowhead’s Rim of the World High School twice (22-25, 30-28, 15-8 and 28-26, 25-17), Rosamond High (25-12, 25-14), Bishop (25-12, 25-22), Mammoth (25-7, 25-17), Wonderful High of Delano (25-9, 25-6), and California City High (25-15, 25-10).
Taylor lead the team in kills in the tournament with 39, to go with her 17 digs and six ace serves. Smith and Bohna had 28 kills each, followed by Oswald (16), Loveland (12) and Duke (11). Oswald also recorded 22 digs and four aces. Smith added 10 aces.
The team’s No. 1 setter, Cacy, finished the tournament with 69 assists, with Jackson adding 21 and Rockey 16.
Loveland had 13 blocks and five ace serves over the weekend, while Hannah Hurtado lead the team in digs with 23 with Cacy, Alli Ruiz, Bailey Hullender, Smith and Bohna recording 22, 18, 16, 11 and 11 respectively.
The Badgers will participate in the Visalia Tournament Sept. 16 and 17, and will host Dos Palos on Sept. 20. League play opens Sept. 27 at Kerman.
Freshman beat Sierra
The Badger freshmen team (2-3), coached by Shelby Biscaglio, traveled to Sierra High School on Sept. 8, and beat the Chieftains 25-16, 15-25, 15-9.
The team had 11 ace serves in the match.