ATWATER — Toni Garcia played a prank on her team when the Sac-Joaquin Section released its volleyball playoff brackets last week.
The Atwater coach knew how much her girls wanted to take a Via bus instead of a regular school bus if they had to open on the road.
"She told us we didn't have enough money to afford a Via bus," junior Brigette Berlier said. "When we were all sad, she said, 'But it doesn't matter because we are playing at home.' "
Playing in front of their raucous crowd, the eighth-seeded Falcons cruised past No. 9 Kimball, 25-19, 25-11, 24-26, 25-13 in the first round of the Division 2 playoffs on Tuesday night.
The Falcons (14-5) will get to take their trip on a Via bus on Thursday when they face No. 1 seed El Camino in the quarterfinals.
"I did play a joke on them," Garcia said. "Incentives have been big this year. It's really helped to motivate them. I told them if we win we'll take the Via bus on Thursday.
"We do have enough money. We won't have to be doing any carwashes to raise money between now and Thursday."
The Falcons set the tone early against the Jaguars in the first two games, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first game and a 16-4 lead in the second game.
Berlier finished with 20 kills, 25 digs and two aces. Hannah Van Warmerdam blasted her way to 24 kills.
"It's really big jumping out to those leads," senior setter Carolyn Schiber said. "Late in the game, if they go on a run those huge early leads help us. We know we can come back."
It was Schiber orchestrating the Falcons offense so well all night, distributing the ball to her hitters.
"Honestly, I know I don't give her enough credit," Berlier said. "She has a hard job. She has to get to every ball. We don't realize the effort she puts in. She has to make everyone happy."
Via bus or no Via bus, the Falcons know they're in for a challenge against El Camino on Thursday.
"They're a great team," Berlier said. "We have to give it our all and we can't go in there intimidated."
St. Mary's 3, Golden Valley 0
STOCKTON -- Belen Castillo's 12 kills weren't enough as the Cougars were swept by the second-seeded Rams, 25-13, 25-12, 25-15.
Camille Flores chipped in 17 assists for GV in the loss.
Le Grand 3, Stone Ridge Christian 0
LE GRAND -- Savanna Barnett's seven kills helped the Bulldogs sweep the Knights, 25-15, 25-16, 26-16.
Hilmar 3, Los Banos 2
LOS BANOS -- Emily Baptista's 29 kills and Valerie Ewing's 42 digs helped Hilmar outlast Los Banos 19-25, 25-16, 25-15, 23-25, 15-11.
Jade Fachin and Monica Mendiol each had a team-high 12 kills and Colleen Allen added 31 assists and three aces in the loss.