After being beat soundly in Tollhouse by the Sierra Chieftains on Oct. 11, players on the Yosemite High volleyball team vowed they wouldn’t let it happen a second time, defeating Sierra 3-1 last week.
In a game to decide who the North Sequoia League Champion would be, Yosemite (33-4, 9-1 NSL) and Sierra (24-4, 8-2) brought their combined season 56-8 win/loss records to the Harry Baker Gymnasium Oct. 27 for the most important game of the year for both teams.
For Sierra, a win would give them a share of the title, after winning it outright the previous four seasons. For Yosemite, a win would help them forget the thumping Sierra gave them in Tollhouse in round one of league play, and give the Badgers its first league title since sharing the title with Chowchilla in 2011.
This time, in front of a crowd of more than 600, it was Yosemite’s turn to shine.
The Badgers overwhelmed the Chieftains in the first set 25-9, after Siena Oswald started the night off with six straight service points. The Badgers built leads of 15-5 and 23-9 before Jordyn Jackson served the 25th point for Yosemite.
Then Yosemite fans had a flashback to the game in Tollhouse, when Sierra came storming back to easily win the second set 25-15. At Tollhouse, after Yosemite won the first set, Sierra won three straight sets to win the match.
After splitting the first two sets, the teams played evenly at the start of the third set and were tied 9-9 when the Badgers went on an eight-point run to make the score 17-9. The closest Sierra got to the Badgers was six points (19-13).
The winning point of the set came when Yosemite’s Rachel Loveland and Tiffany Cacy stuffed an attempted Sierra kill shot, giving Yosemite the 25-17 win.
The fourth set was also close, at one point being tied 10-10. With the help of four straight serving points from Savanah Bohna, Yosemite pulled away to a 20-16 lead before winning the set, and the NSL championship, 25-18.
Yosemite Coach Michele Chenowith said she had very little sleep all week leading up to the game, but was confident in her team that “wanted this so bad.”
“The girls came in tonight with the right attitude and fought hard all night long to earn this championship,” Chenowith said.
Oswald, who had seven kills and nine digs on the night, said the team came together to show Sierra what they could do. “Our defense killed it and we played the way we knew we could. We just just increased our overall level of play as the night went on,” Oswald said.
Loveland, who recorded 10 kills on the night, said she was glad the team was able to accomplish what they have been working for years to achieve.
“Not only did we win league by beating our rival in front of our hometown crowd, we brought our school and community together in a way that nobody will ever forget,” Loveland said. “These are the moments we will remember for the rest of our lives.”
Bohna, who had 10 kills, said the team played awesome against Sierra and left everything on the court. “I couldn’t be happier about this win and winning league. I’m so lucky to share it with such an amazing team,” Bohna said.
Karee Smith also had nine kills and three blocks. Sophomore Sayda Taylor recorded seven kills, Hannah Hurtado had 11 digs, while Cacy had a game high 22 assists to go with her eight digs. Smith said the entire team did an amazing job against Sierra. “I loved watching our community come together for this win and I couldn’t be prouder,” Smith said. “We hope the whole town can come out to our Thursday (Nov. 3) playoff game.”
Cacy said after the game she couldn’t be more proud of the team, and was thankful for all of her teammates, Coach Chenowith, and for the support the community has given the team. Samantha Rockey called her teammates incredible. “We have been training all season for this championship game,” Rockey said.
Sierra senior Abby Briggs said her entire team played their hearts out and pushed through all the downs in the game. “We walk out of here (Yosemite gym) a strong team looking forward to the playoffs,” Briggs said.
Ty and Tammy Loveland had another reason to celebrate. Tammy, a 12-year member of the school district board of trustees and a former Badger, has a daughter (Amanda) on the JV team and a daughter (Rachel) on the varsity. She had some parental advice for her daughters before the games - “I told them to visualize the win, believe you can and you will.”
Prior to the Sierra game, the Badgers beat Chowchilla (12-9, 5-5 NSL) in three sets Oct. 25 (25-20, 25-11, 25-22).
Badgers get bye in D-III playoffs
The Badgers, with the No. 3 seed in the 12-team CIF Central Section D-III playoffs, drew a bye in the first round, and will host the winner of the No. 6 Woodlake and No. 11 Sunnyside game at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Nov. 3). The winner of that game will advance to the Nov. 8 semifinals.
The No. 1 seed went to Bakersfield Christian and No. 2 is Mission Oak of Tulare, the team that knocked Yosemite out of the playoffs last year.
JV team wins title with 10-0 record
The Badger JV team (27-2, 10-0 NSL) opened the night with a victory (25-22, 25-17) over Sierra (8-2 NSL) to clinch the league title. The win made back-to-back 10-0 league records and titles for second year coach Tricia Ruiz.
“We got off to a slow start, and I could tell that the girls nerves were causing mental mistakes,” said Coach Ruiz. “After a time out and a little discussion on how to change the momentum of the game, the team turned it around and never looked back.”
Ruiz said she had lots of talent on her team, but what made her the proudest was all the hard work her team put in all season long and how the team believed in themselves.
“We ended the match with 14 team kills and only five hitting errors,” Ruiz said. “Monique Ades had six kills and when she is on, her kill shots are almost impossible to return. She’s also has been a great team leader along with Izzy Peter who had five digs tonight. Teyha Abrahams helped Izzy in the back row with seven digs and Madison Ayala had five. Amanda Loveland helped the team with eight good receives and five digs out of the back row. It was a great match and the team played so well. They were unstoppable.”