It was clear to anyone in the Yosemite High gymnasium Saturday night that someone made a big mistake when they seeded the Sonora Wildcats (27-8, 12-0 VOL) girls volleyball team No. 11 in the North Region of the State CIF D-III volleyball playoffs.
Second year coach Amy Wahlbrink, University of Pacific-bound senior Riley Patterson, and the rest of the Wildcats got off to a big start against the Badgers, winning the first set 25-12. With her ferocious kill shots and serves the likes Yosemite hadn’t seen all season long, Patterson almost single-handily silenced the large home-town crowd during the first set.
In the opening round, Yosemite (33-8, 9-1 NSL), the No. 3 seed in the North Region, beat No. 14 Buhach Coloney (17-14, 9-3 CCC) of Atwater in three sets Nov. 15. On that same night Sonora was beating No. 6 seed Head-Royce of Oakland 3-1 to advance to its round two game with the Badgers.
The second set was tied at 7-7, when the Wildcats went on a 10-4 run to take a 17-11 lead. The Badgers closed the gap to 4 points, before Sonora closed out the set 25-19.
After looking a little shell-shocked after the first two sets, Yosemite started to come to life in a close third set - a set that had the two teams tied 5 times. Yosemite had it’s first lead of the night at 9-8. With some crucial kill shots from Sayda Taylor, Savanah Bohna, Karee Smith and Chloe Duke, Yosemite tied the set at 18-18. The Badgers went ahead 19-18, and kept Sonora at bay, winning 25-21. Yosemite’s last two points of the set came on a bad serve by Sonora and Sonora being called for playing out of rotation.
Yosemite continued to build some momentum in the fourth set and after being behind 18-13, came back to tie the score at 20 a piece on a Tiffany Cacy ace serve. With the Wildcats up 23-22, two more points gave them the 25-22 set, the game and a trip to the North Area semi finals Tuesday against No. 2 seed Los Gatos High (24-12, 6-6). Los Gatos advanced after beating No. 10 seed El Dorado High (22-13, 9-1) of Placerville in three sets.
The winner of the Sonora-Los Gatos will advance to the Nov. 25 North Area championship game to play the winner of the No. 1 seed Santa Catalina and No. 4 seed Lincoln.
The winner of that game will advance to play the winner of the South Area for the state title on Dec. 2.
Sonora made it to the North Region D-III championship game last season, losing 3-2 to Acalanes of Lafayette, the team that went on to win the D-III State Championship.
Taylor and Bohna have double-double
Taylor and Bohna had a double-double evening for YHS - Taylor with 23 digs and 12 kills to go with her 3 blocked shots and 3 aces - Bohna had 15 digs and 10 kills.
Jordyn Jackson just missed a double-double with 15 assists and 9 digs, while Cacy recorded 15 assists and 6 digs.
Siena Oswald finished the night with 10 digs and 4 kills, Ali Ruiz had 10 digs, while Smith, Duke and Rachel Loveland had 6, 4 and 2 kills, respectively.
Patterson had 18 kills and 31 digs for Sonora, with Emma Collett getting 35 digs.
Molly O’Reilly recorded 9 kills, Maddi Fong had 7 aces, and Sarah Rosasco had 6 blocks.
Coach Wahlbrinks said two big things stood out about her team tonight - the fast start in the first set and doing well in stopping Yosemite’s big hitters when they needed to.
“All season, we have been getting off to a slow start in our games,” Wahlbrinks said. “Tonight was our best start of the season, and that kept the crowd out of the game - that helped a lot.”
“We knew Yosemite had some big hitters and we prepared for that all week long ... it paid off,” Wahlbrinks said.
Yosemite Coach Michele Chenowith, with 7 outright or shared league titles and three Central Section D-III titles, said she was proud the way her team fought against Sonora.
“Sonora’s No. 23 (Patterson) is a very good player,” Chenowith said. “We could not block her and we could not dig her.”
For 7 Yosemite seniors - Samantha Rockey, Rachel Loveland, Siena Oswald, Tiffany Cacy, Karee Smith, Savannah Bohna and Alli Ruiz, it was the last volleyball game in their successful high school careers.
“This Badger team is a close knit group of great girls,” Chenowith said. “We have had a very successful and fun season that we all can be proud of.”
Badgers sweep Thunder
In the first set against Buhach Coloney, Yosemite fell behind 16-13, before going on an 9-2 run to pull ahead 22-18, before closing the set at 25-19.
Although never ahead in the second set, Buhach kept in reach of the Badgers, before Yosemite won 25-20.
The third set was the longest set both teams had been in all season, with the Badgers hanging on for a 29-27 win. At 24-24, the score was tied three more times before Yosemite put two points together for the win. Like Saturday night, about 600 people, mostly Yosemite fans, witnessed one of the most exciting and evenly-matched games of the season.
For Yosemite, Taylor had another big night with 8 kills, 7 digs, 5 blocked shots, and 2 ace serves. Smith had 12 kills, followed by Bohna and Duke with 6 and 5.
Cacy and Jackson recorded 14 and 12 assists, and Loveland added 3 blocks and 2 kills.
The Badger’s back court had another outstanding game.
For Buhach Coloney, sophomore Miranda Baptista had a triple-triple, something no other player accomplished against Yosemite this season, with 14 assists, 13 kills and 11 digs. Junior Cameron Gray had a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs.