Relegated to playing the role of spoiler, Ceres High School's scrappy varsity volleyball team put a major scare into host Central Valley last week.
The Hawks kept their playoff hopes alive Thursday evening with a 3-2 (22-25, 25-8, 25-17, 20-25, 15-6) win over the crosstown-rival Bulldogs.
Central Valley improved to 6-4 in the Western Athletic Conference standings.
Ceres High dropped to 1-10 in WAC play.
Central Valley and Patterson will be vying for the WAC's final playoff berth this week.
"We wanted to show we're the best team in Ceres," Hawks junior standout Julia Ramsey said. "There was pressure. If we lost today, we wouldn't have a shot at playoffs."
Ellysa Widas had 21 assists and one ace for Central Valley.
Julie Ramsey collected 12 kills, five digs and one block.
Blanca Espinoza added 12 digs, one kill and one ace.
Lynaya Lerma chipped in with six blocks, three digs and three kills.
Elizabeth Olide totaled five digs and three aces.
Jessica Arreola led Ceres High with 21 digs.
Cameron Diaz had 16 assists and four aces.
Valerie Hamilton tallied 11 kills.
Kendall Meyer totaled seven blocks.
"I don't know if we could have done anything differently today," Bulldogs head coach Stephanie Hamilton said. "Our team is improving. I don't care what our record shows."
Central Valley scored five straight points to open the decisive set. The Bulldogs got within three points three times (5-2, 7-4, 9-6), but could never pull even.
"They responded differently than I anticipated they would," Hawks head coach Kelly Heese said while talking about her team's play in the fifth set. "They didn't fold. They showed a lot of spunk."
"It came down to who wanted it more," Ramsey said. "Every single point was important. We never let down."
"They got a big lead," Arreola said. "There was a lot of pressure. We stopped communicating and working together."
Ceres High used a 16-11 run to force a fifth-set tiebreaker.
The Hawks won the second and third sets after dropping the first one.
Central Valley rallied for a 22-25, 25-8, 25-10, 25-15 win over Ceres High on Sept. 30 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.
"We did way better than last time," Arreola said. "We practiced hard. We were really pumped up. Our confidence was high. We just fell short."
Ceres High nearly upset Central Valley last week.
"When they play us, they rise to a different level," Ramsey said. "They have young talent. They're not crappy."
"It's going to take me a while to wind down from this one," Heese added. "That's the last team we want kicking us out of the hunt for a playoff spot because they're our rival."