Central Valley High School's varsity girls volleyball team anticipated battling Ceres High for several hours last week.
The Hawks beat the much-improved Bulldogs with surprising easy, sweeping the Western Athletic Conference crosstown showdown 25-13, 25-22, 25-19 Wednesday night at Central Valley.
"The key was to keep up our intensity," Central Valley junior standout Mariana Garibay said. "That always brings the other teams down."
The Hawks improved their all-time record versus the Bulldogs to 12-9.
Central Valley has won the last 11 matches dating back to the 2011 season, including seven straight under fourth-year head coach Kelly Heese's guidance.
"To me, they're another opponent," Heese said. "Every match we play matters. We want to beat everybody."
Garibay tallied nine kills, two aces and one dig versus Ceres High.
Adria Robinson added five kills and three aces.
Blanca Espinoza had five digs and two aces.
Kayla Walker had five kills, one dig and one ace.
Jacquelyn Sanchez had five aces and one dig.
Carmen Sanchez had three digs, one kill, one block and one ace.
Anysia Lopez had one block.
"Mariana's really stepped up her game," Heese said. "She's so consistent. She very rarely misses. She's everywhere on the court. She's like Spider-Woman. That's what I call her."
Ceres High improved each game against Central Valley last week, but could never generate any momentum.
"We were running our offense," Garibay said. "We kept them on their defense. It was a well-rounded game. Everybody did their job."
"Today, we were a little off," Bulldog sophomore player Alyssa Stiles said. "It's frustrating. We just weren't communicating. Everybody was quiet. We were all down. We're going to have to be more energetic next time."
Central Valley improved to 3-2 in the WAC.
Ceres High dropped to 3-2 in conference play.
The Hawks are vying for their third straight postseason berth.
The Bulldogs last participated in the playoffs in 2010.
"We want to keep the streak going," Garibay said. "We also want to take first in league."
"These girls are very coachable," Heese added. "They're working hard for me."