It's all good for Atwater, as even Falcons' mistakes turn into winners

sjansen@mercedsunstar.comOctober 3, 2013 

— Brittany Massa mishit her serve and watched as it fell softly to the court on the other side of the net for an ace.

The Falcons could do no wrong on their way to an impressive 28-26, 25-18, 25-16 sweep of Golden Valley in front of a raucous crowd at Atwater High on Thursday night.

"That was really cute," Falcons coach Toni Garcia said. "Brittany is such a perfectionist. She stays after practice every single day to hit the ball. She wants to help her team in any way she can."

While it's usually star outside hitters Hannah Van Warmerdam and Brigette Berlier who attract the spotlight, it was the Falcons' role players such as Massa (five kills, two aces), Abby Knapp (four blocks) and Lori Boesch (12 digs) who delivered in key spots against the Cougars.

Atwater (3-3 Central California Conference) needed contributions from everyone after falling behind 22-15 in the first game.

"We've been talking about that for weeks," Garcia said. "Everyone has to be held accountable out there. It can't just be Hannah leading the team or Brigette leading the team. Everyone has to contribute."

Massa recorded a kill and an ace to help spark a mini 4-0 run by the Falcons to cut the lead to 22-19.

Berlier (seven kills, 19 digs, three blocks) tacked on a couple kills and Van Warmerdam came up with a big block as Atwater caught GV at 24-all.

Van Warmerdam then took over, recording three of her team-high 12 kills as the Falcons came back to win 28-26.

"That was huge," Van Warmerdam said. "To know that we worked that hard to come back and ended up getting the win.

"That pumped us all up."

The Cougars (3-3 CCC) never recovered.

Golden Valley struggled to get anything going in the final two games.

Belen Castillo finished with 13 kills for the Cougars. Emma Zacharias led with 16 digs.

"That first game was the whole match for both teams," Golden Valley coach Matt Thissen said. "We need three points to win it and they need 10 points?

"We told the girls we have to put them away. We can't let them get four or five straight points to let them get momentum for the next game. Then they end up coming back to win. They grabbed the momentum and never let go."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star reporter. He can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or

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