Fueled by a desire to reach new heights, Central Valley High School’s varsity volleyball team thrived under pressure as it topped Patterson 25-15, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22 for the Western Athletic Conference’s third and final playoff berth Tuesday evening in Ceres.
The Hawks will make their first-ever postseason appearance.
Fifteenth-seeded Central Valley will play at No. 2 Christian Brothers in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoffs on Nov. 11.
“It feels amazing to be a part of it,” Hawks junior standout Julia Ramsey said. “It’s the best moment of my volleyball career. I was nervous but I knew we could do it. We had nothing to fear.”
“It happened,” Central Valley head coach Kelly Heese said. “They’re taking me to the playoffs. I don’t know if it’s set in 100 percent.”
The Hawks won the first set in decisive fashion.
“They came out on fire,” Heese said.
The Tigers roared back from a 17-9 deficit before dropping the second set to the Hawks. Patterson pulled even at 17-17, 19-19 and 20-20. Central Valley closed out the game with a 5-2 run.
Patterson led from start to finish while winning the third set.
Central Valley built what appeared to be an insurmountable 17-6 lead in the fourth set. Down 20-11, Patterson used a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 22-21. The Hawks accounted for three of the game’s final four points.
“We got so wrapped up in the fact we were winning,” Heese said. “We really struggled with finishing it off. I got a little nervous towards the end. Patterson would have had the upper hand had we gone five games. It didn’t happen, thankfully.”
Central Valley earned the right to host the tiebreaker match after winning a coin toss following their 23-25, 26-24, 25-18, 26-24 win over Patterson on Oct. 28.
The Hawks and Tigers compiled identical 7-5 records in WAC play.
Central Valley and Patterson split during the regular season.
Central Valley won the second meeting on the road.
Patterson edged Central Valley in five games on Oct. 2 in Ceres.
“Both teams had the same goal,” Ramsey said. “It came down to who wanted it more. I guess we were stronger in the end. We all played very well together. We’re very good at communicating.”
Added Heese: “We didn’t come out here to lose today. We’ve worked too hard.”
Cameras flashed as Central Valley fans celebrated the victory with Heese and her players.
“We haven’t had a crowd that big ever,” Ramsey said.
“We appreciate the support,” Heese added.