Pressure intensified as Central Valley's and Los Banos' varsity volleyball teams engaged in a see-saw battle this past week in Ceres.
The Hawks fell short in their attempt to knock off the tradition-rich Tigers for the first time.
Los Banos rallied past Central Valley, 16-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-12, 15-12, on Oct. 6.
"That's the closest we've ever come to beating them," said Hawks senior standout Julia Ramsey, whose hair was soaked following the match as a result of the two-hour battle. "I don't feel like either of us outplayed each other. We were pretty equal the whole time. It was intense."
There were five ties in the fifth and decisive game.
The four-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Tigers used a 6-1 run to turn a 5-3 deficit into a 9-6 lead.
Central Valley called a timeout after Ramsey slammed the back of her head on the court on a dig attempt.
The Hawks got within one point four times at 9-8, 10-9, 11-10 and 13-12 before the Tigers closed out the match.
"Those are the matches you live for," Ramsey said. "It sucks when you lose them."
Central Valley dominated the first and third games.
The Hawks struggled during the fourth game.
"Little mistakes add up," Ramsey said.
Central Valley appeared headed for a victory against Los Banos before having its hopes dashed.
The Tigers won the final two games, including the fourth one in dominant fashion.
Los Banos (5-1) took over sole possession of second place in the WAC standings.
Central Valley (4-2) dropped to third place.
The Ramsey-led Hawks have yet to beat the Tigers.
Ramsey and Central Valley have compiled an 0-5 record versus Los Banos over the past two-plus seasons. "We've never been at their level before until this year," Ramsey said. "I would have been really nice to win."