Central Valley's varsity girls volleyball team made its third straight Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance under fourth-year head coach Kelly Heese's guidance this past week.
The 17th-seeded Hawks lost their Division-II out-bracket postseason contest, 16-25, 25-12, 19-25, 25-12, 16-14, to the No. 16 Laguna Creek Cardinals on Oct. 31 in Elk Grove.
"Everybody was on the same page at times," Central Valley third-year player Blanca Espinoza said. "We could have won. The other team wanted it more than us."
The Cardinals improved to 13-11 overall.
Laguna Creek finished third in the Metropolitan Conference (10-4).
The Hawks compiled an 8-11 overall record this year and placed third in the Western Athletic Conference (7-8).
"The coaches expected a lot from us," Espinoza said. "There was a lot of pressure. We pulled through and did the best we could on the court."
The Cardinals twice rallied from a set down in defeating the Hawks.
"We had a really good warmup," Central Valley junior Mariana Garibay said. "Our attitudes were positive. We were encouraging each other. We gave it our all."
The Hawks managed to secure their third straight postseason berth this fall despite competing with a revamped lineup.
Julia Ramsey, Central Valley's all-time greatest player, Ellysa Widas and Alyssa Costa were lost to graduation.
Ramsey and Widas were both selected to the WAC First Team.
Costa earned second-team all-conference honors.
"Julia was a great player," Garibay said. "I felt like she was a coach to us. She had a lot of knowledge. She was our leader. It was my job to reach where she was. I need to be more vocal. That's something I'll work on next year."
"We were still a strong team," Espinoza added. "I knew that we'd make it to playoffs. Everybody wanted it. We were motivated."
The Hawks will move forward without Espinoza, Adria Robinson and Maria Sanchez.
Espinoza, Robinson and Sanchez will graduate in June.
"I think it will," Garibay said when asked if Central Valley would return to the playoffs for the fourth straight year next fall. "The JV girls coming up have a lot of potential. It's just a matter of us connecting and earning trust."