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Hawks make volleyball playoff debut
Central Valley loses to tradition-rich Christian Brothers
Central Valleys varsity volleyball program reached record heights this year. The Hawks qualified for the playoffs and compiled a winning record in Western Athletic Conference play. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Central Valley High School's varsity volleyball program made its first-ever postseason appearance last week.

The 15th-seeded Hawks lost 25-7, 25-14, 25-6 to second-seeded Christian Brothers in the Division-III playoffs on Nov. 11 in Sacramento.

"It's a learning experience," said Kelly Heese, second-year head coach of Central Valley.

The Falcons improved to 26-11 on the year and earned the right to face seventh-seeded Vanden in the quarterfinals.

The Hawks accomplished several firsts this year.

Central Valley qualified for the playoffs and compiled a winning record.

The Hawks (8-5) placed third in the Western Athletic Conference standings.

"I'm proud of the job they've done," Heese said. "Our goal was to make it to playoffs and we did. The chemistry on the court was amazing. They grew so much. They learned how to adapt to each other. They were very coachable. They had more drive and desire this year. We're not just a team. We're a family."

"We worked extremely hard to get here," Hawks junior standout Julia Ramsey said. "We made history. We made a name for ourselves. Central Valley didn't have anything going until she (Heese) came in."

Central Valley lacked focus during its warmups prior to competing against Christian Brothers.

The Falcons won the Division-III crown in 2013.

Christian Brothers placed first five years in a row (2005-09) at the Division-IV level.

"Once you get there (playoffs), it's a whole different level," Heese said. "Half the battle is intimidation. I expected my girls to be a little more pumped up. I'm not going to undermine their program. They played hard. We didn't. It's very disappointing."
The Hawks dropped out of playoff contention late in the 2013 season. Central Valley finished fourth in the WAC (5-7).

Central Valley tied for last place in conference play at 2-10 with Ceres High in 2012.

"The table has been set," Heese said. "We changed the way people look at our program. Central Valley is not looked upon as not being competitive. We should do well again next year. We only lose three players. We have some talent coming up. Any goal is attainable if you work hard enough."

Veterans Lynaya Lerma, Erika Perez and Elizabeth Olide will be lost to graduation.