If the Atwater High School volleyball team is going to make a run at the playoffs, the Falcons can’t afford many more bumps in the road.
Atwater fed off its large student section that showed up at the Thunder Dome on Wednesday night and cruised past Buhach Colony 25-8, 25-20, 25-13 to even its record at 5-5 in the Central California Conference.
If the Falcons had their way, they’d load up their crowd on the team bus and take them to each match. The Atwater students showed up in blue shirts, were chanting players names, leading cheers and even sent one student crowd surfing during the match.
“I really think it’s the crowd that pumps us up,” said junior Brittany Massa, who finished with a team-high 18 digs. “It’s big for us to have our crowd there supporting us. We play better.”
With five matches left, Atwater trails Turlock (6-4) by one game for the third playoff spot. The Bulldogs lost to Pitman 25-16, 25-21, 25-16 on Wednesday night.
The Falcons and Bulldogs split their first two matches this season. The schedule works in Atwater’s favor with Turlock coming to the Nest on Oct. 27. The winner of that match will hold the tiebreaker.
“I think it’s really important to these girls to make the playoffs,” Atwater coach Toni Garcia said. “This is the goal when the season started. We wrote it up on the board at the beginning of the year.”
The Falcons’ main hurdle this season has been consistency. The energy level has gone up and down from game to game and match to match.
That wasn’t a problem against the Thunder (0-10).
The Falcons were in attack mode early and it wasn’t just their star, Hannah van Warmerdam. The fourth-year starter finished with a team high 17 kills and three aces, but players like Jordan Turner (four kills and three blocks) and Abby Knapp (four blocks) came through when called upon. Bailey Salveson also came up with some nice serves and Karen Kale chipped in with 28 assists and two aces.
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“That’s something we’ve talked about, that we need everyone to be good, contributing members to the team,” Garcia said. “That’s what we have to be to be a good team. I saw that today from the start of warmups. We were in it to win it. I could see the intensity in their eyes.”
Golden Valley 3, Merced 0 at Golden Valley – The Cougars (7-3 CCC) took over sole possession of second place in the conference with a 25-15, 25-15, 25-15 win.
Belen Castillo paced Golden Valley with 17 kills and three blocks. Gabby Flores had nine kills and two blocks. Abbee Croninger recorded seven kills and two blocks.
This story was originally published October 15, 2014 9:45 PM.