High School Sports News

Atwater volleyball falls in five at Turlock

Toni Garcia rarely takes losses well. This one wasn’t so bad.

The Atwater High School volleyball coach couldn’t help but smile as she left the Turlock gym after watching her team scratch and claw its way back before falling 22-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-21, 15-12 to the Bulldogs on Wednesday night.

“I’d much rather lose this way than if we would have lost the way we were playing at the end of Game 3,” Garcia said. “We battled back. We fought to get momentum.”

What started as a sluggish affair eventually turned into an exciting match with possible playoff implications on the line.

The Falcons (4-4 Central California Conference) had a tough time getting going early. Atwater won the first game but looked lost in Games 2 and 3.

Maybe it was the quiet crowd or the dark gym, but the Falcons had a few things to overcome.

“It’s definitely more quiet than our gym is,” Atwater senior Hannah van Warmerdam said. “We definitely started slow. Finally, after that third game, we stepped up. We pulled the energy from ourselves and we fed off each other.”

Like most matches, van Warmerdam led the way. She racked up 29 digs, 25 kills and three aces.

When van Warmerdam made her way back to the front row midway through the fourth game, the Falcons made their run, scoring seven of eight points to take an 18-15 lead. She had three kills during the run.

Atwater held off Turlock to force a fifth game. It was the second time this season the teams have gone five games. The Falcons defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 at the Nest on Sept. 22.

The Falcons looked like they were on their way to another five-game victory when they jumped out to a 7-3 lead. Some stellar digs from the Atwater back row jump-started the offense, forcing Turlock to call a timeout to regroup.

“We never quit, we do not give up,” Turlock coach Amber Castillon said. “In that timeout I told our girls the only way we win is if we pass the ball. We have to get that first pass to our setter. We have to run the offense. When we run the offense we’re hard to beat.”

Kills by Emily Romo (15 kills) and Jadyn Tubbs (17 kills, 14 digs) helped Turlock pull within 8-6. Tubbs added another kill and an ace to pull the Bulldogs even at 10-10.

The Falcons took a 12-10 lead, but the Bulldogs scored the final five points to win.

Freshmen setter Julia Handy, one of the team captains, picked up one of her 10 kills to tie the match at 12-all. She then set up Romo and Victoria Larson (29 kills) to set up match point at 14-12.

Handy and Romo then combined to block a van Warmerdam attempt at the net to end the match.

“A lot people asked, ‘You have a freshman as a captain?’ ” Castillon said. “Those people don’t know this freshman. She runs our offense every game. We run a very sophisticated offense because of her ability to run it.”

Golden Valley 3, Buhach Colony 0

Pitman 3, Merced 0

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