In what many thought would be one of the most competitive volleyball games in early North Sequoia League play between Yosemite High (27-3, 2-0 NSL) and previously unbeaten Liberty (23-1, 1-1 NSL), the Badgers beat the Hawks in three straight sets (25-18, 25-11, 25-18) at home Sept. 29.
“I think we got in their heads early,” said Badger junior Savannah Bohna, an NSL All-League selection last season. “They are physically a good team but we played well from the start of the night to the end.”
“My team is just amazing,” said Badger coach Michele Chenowith. “They are so talented and work so hard ... It’s a pleasure to be their coach. I don’t think Liberty was expecting us to be such a big hitting, blocking and digging team.”
“We were a little unprepared for what we saw tonight,” said Jesus Pineda, Liberty’s Assistant Coach. “This was the first time in a few weeks we have played such a well-rounded team. If we have one or two players have an off night, it really affects our overall play. Yosemite has the depth that they can get by even with a player or two hav ing an off night. We have received a lot of press by being undefeated before tonight and maybe we got a little overconfident. We had a lot of miss communication tonight.”
Starting to gain some attention throughout the Valley, the Fresno Bee this week moved the Badgers up to No. 15 in the Central Section and No. 3 in D-III behind Mission Oak and Bakersfield Christian. The Bee has the Hawks ranked No. 18 in the section and No. 1 in D-IV. The top spot belongs to Clovis (29-5).
Pineda said the Hawks need to be more disciplined in their play.
“We’ll go back to working on the basics that we have been doing well all season and look forward to playing the Badgers at home on Oct. 18,” Pineda said.
“We are having the best time playing together,” said Yosemite junior Siena Oswald. “We’re looking forward to improving and just playing one game at a time.”
But due to a minor off-court injury, the Badgers will be without the services of Oswald this week, although she is expected to return to the lineup next week. After 30 games, she’s the team leader in point saving defensive digs (180) and serves received (143), and is second on the team in ace serves (25) and kills (133).
On Sept. 27, the Badgers opened league play with a win at Kerman (8-11, 0-2 NSL) and Liberty beat Washington Union (25-13, 25-22, 25-18). Yosemite hosts Union (16-5, 0-2 NSL) Oct. 4 and travel to Chowchilla (9-6, 1-1) on Oct. 6.
Last year’s NSL champs Sierra High (18-2, 2-0) beat Kerman Sept. 29 (25-18, 25-17, 19-25, 25-18) and took five sets to beat Chowchilla Sept. 27 (22-25, 25-21, 17-25, 26-24, 15-13).
JV gets two wins
The Badger JV team (19-2, 2-0 NSL) also started league play with two victories last week.
The team beat Kerman (25-17, 25-10) and Liberty (26-24, 21-25, 15-9).
In the Kerman game, Alyssa Airey had seven kills and four service aces.
Against Liberty, Izzy Peter recorded a perfect serve receive game and 12 digs. Kelsie Wasem had five kills and six stuff blocks.
“Our team has a lot of talent and we are still learning how to stay consistent with our play,” said Coach Tricia Ruiz. “The game against Liberty really showed us that we can come back and win after being behind seven points in one of the sets.”
The teams played Washington Union Tuesday (scores unavailable by press time), and are at Chowchilla Thursday.