After cruising to an overall 29-3 record (3-0 in North Sequoia League play), the Yosemite volleyball team was upended by longtime rival Sierra Oct. 11 in Tollhouse.
After winning the first set 25-19, it looked like the Badgers were on their way to another victory, but Sierra turned the night around, winning the next three sets 25-15, 25-14, 25-20.
The win at the time gave Sierra an overall 20-3 record and a 4-1 record in NSL play - and made a three-way tie for first place with Yosemite and Liberty (27-1, 5-1 NSL). Liberty’s only loss on the season came from Yosemite.
The loss knocked the Badgers back to No. 18 of the Fresno Bee’s top 20 Central Section teams, and ranked No. 3 in D-III behind Mission Oak and Bakersfield Christian.
The Bee’s rankings have Liberty at No. 16 overall and No. 1 in D-IV, followed by Sierra at No. 2 in the division and No. 17 overall.
“That was a big win for us,” said Sierra fifth-year coach Amanda Lopez Thompson. “With our loss against Liberty we knew we had to win to keep in the running for league title which we have held since 2012.”
The Chieftains beat Minarets in last year’s D-IV CIF Central Section championship game.
Thompson said her defense and offense played strong as they normally do, but it was the team’s serving that made the big difference against Yosemite.
“Our serving was strong and consistent all night long,” Thompson said. “Since the loss of six strong players to graduation last year we have been struggling with playing as a team and bonding, but we had a breakthrough that day about three hours before the game. You might not believe it but I could tell by the look in their eyes that we had one team again, not 13 individuals.”
“We had a rough night trying to dig Sierra’s attacks,” Badger Coach Michele Chenowith said. “They were on their game and we did a lot of standing around looking at each other. We will regroup and work on our weaknesses so that our overall game can improve.”
Siena Oswald and Savannah Bohna each had eight kills, Sayda Taylor had seven and Karee Smith contributed five against Sierra. Bohna also had 10 digs in the game and Tiffany Cacy recorded 18 assists.
Oswald said the Badgers can’t minimize what Sierra did to them.
“They played a real good game and we played a real bad game,” Oswald said.
Cacy said the team plays year-round and the Sierra game had to be the most frustrating game of the year.
“We fairly easily beat teams that beat them - Liberty and Minarets - so I think we were a little overconfident going into the game,” Cacy said. “Hopefully we learned a lesson and won’t let that happen the rest of the season.”
“That game is history - we’ve already blocked it out of our minds,” Bohna said. “You’ll see a different Badger team when they come here on Oct. 27.”
Easy win over Kerman
The Badgers came back at home Oct. 13 with a three-set win (25-13, 25-16, 25-19) against an overmatched Kerman Lions (9-16-1, 0-6 NSL).
Smith, Taylor, Rachel Loveland, Chloe Duke and Bohna had 10, 9, 7, 5 and 4 kills respectively. Oswald had 13 digs and 4 aces, Bailey Hullender recorded 10 digs, and Sammantha Rockey and Cacy had 11 and 9 assists.
Yosemite, Sierra and Liberty are now tied for the league lead at 5-1.
Yosemite traveled to Liberty on Oct. 19 and to Washington Union on Oct. 20. Sierra visits Yosemite on Oct. 27, a game that could very well decide the NSL title.
“Depending on both of our outcomes against Liberty, I’m sure we will pack the Yosemite gym to full capacity on Oct. 27,” Thompson said.
JV team remains undefeated in NSL
The Badger JV team (23-2, 6-0 NSL) remained undefeated in league play by beating both Sierra and Kerman in two sets last week. The second half of league play begins this week.