Central Valley High School’s varsity volleyball program closed out the 2014 Western Athletic Conference regular season with a 25-17, 25-18, 25-15 loss to undefeated Los Banos on Thursday in Ceres.
The loss, coupled with Patterson’s win over Livingston, sets up a win-or-go-home showdown between two similar teams.
Central Valley and Patterson will battle for the WAC’s final playoff berth Tuesday evening at 6 in Ceres.
“They know what’s at stake,” Hawks head coach Kelly Heese said. “All they can do is play. I’m not going to train them any differently. Looking at the stats, we’re the more solid team. It’s a do-or-die situation. We’re going to give it our all. I’d be disappointed if we lost.”
The Hawks 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.
“It would mean everything, just the fact it would be our first time making playoffs,” Central Valley senior Lynaya Lerma said. “We really want it. We’re pretty confident. We just need to work hard and together. It’s going to be a good match. We’re ready for it.”
The Hawks and Tigers compiled identical 7-5 records in WAC play.
“We built up our confidence the last time we played them,” Lerma said. “We know how they play. We should be able to win.”
The Hawks and Tigers split during the regular season.
Central Valley won the second meeting on the road.
Lerma collected seven blocks, two kills and one ace.
Ellysa Widas led the Hawks with 21 assists, two digs, two kills and one block.
Blanca Espinoza had 12 digs and one ace.
Julia Ramsey tallied 10 kills, four blocks, four digs and three aces.
Elizabeth Olide added four aces, three digs and one kill.
“We played our game,” Heese said. “We ran our offense. We should have never lost to Patterson the first time.”
Patterson edged Central Valley in five games on Oct. 2 in Ceres.
Ramsey, the Hawks’ best all-round player, was slowed by an ankle injury.
“That made a difference,” Heese said.
Espinoza had 12 digs in Central Valley’s 3-0 loss to Los Banos last week.
Widas chipped in with eight assists.
Ramsey totaled five kills, five digs, two aces and one block.
“We competed,” Heese said. “We didn’t get slaughtered.”
Central Valley finds itself on the doorstep of history.
The Hawks are trying to secure their first-ever playoff berth.
A scrappy Patterson team stands in the way.
“The girls have worked very hard for me this year,” Heese said. “They’re receptive to what I’ve asked them to do. The bond they share is one I haven’t seen with teams I’ve coached in the past. We’ve had a successful season, win or lose.”
Added Lerma: “I just feel like we’re working better together. We have a good connection.”