MERCED — Toni Garcia wasn't happy after watching the ball fall to the court as two of her Atwater volleyball players stood looking at each other.
"It was the last play of the first game," Garcia said. "The ball dropped between two players who both said, 'That's your ball.' That should never happen. Those points could be the difference between winning or losing."
The Falcons found their focus and spoiled Merced's senior night with a 22-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 win on Tuesday night at Merced High's Clemons Court.
It was Hannah van Warmerdam leading the way for Atwater (8-5 Central California Conference) with 25 kills, 20 digs and four aces.
"In the second game we woke up a bit," van Warmerdam said. "It's kind of like we came out and said, 'Let's go get them.' "
The Falcons jumped on the Bears early in each of the final three games and played well from in front.
Brigette Berlier chipped in with 16 kills and 23 digs for the Falcons. Sophomore Brittany Massa played well at the net with three blocks and 26 digs.
"We need to realize that one point isn't the end of the world," said Merced coach Marcia-Marie Rosson. "In volleyball, five points isn't the end of the world. We have to be able to stop that. When we're able to shake that off, we'll be fine."
The Falcons outplayed the Bears down the stretch in games two and three to take a 2-1 lead.
Van Warmerdam delivered two key aces to help Atwater put away the second game.
The Falcons used a 9-1 run late in the third game to open up a 23-15 lead with the help of two key kills by Berlier.
The Bears (8-5 CCC) battled back from an early 11-3 deficit to make the Falcons sweat in game four.
Samantha Roberts (12 kills) and Kaley Hitt (nine kills) both came up big to help the Bears pull within 20-19 and 23-22, but Atwater was able to put the match away and pull even with the Bears for second place in the CCC.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," Garcia said. "I knew at any moment Merced could make a run. They never gave up."
Golden Valley 3, Turlock 0
TURLOCK Belen Castillo's 15 kills and four aces paced the Cougars in a 25-19, 25-19, 25-16 win over the Bulldogs.
Camille Flores recorded 20 assists for Golden Valley.
Pitman 3, Buhach Colony 0
ATWATER Maddy Halteman recorded 27 assists and three aces to help the Pride improve to 13-0 in the CCC.
Macy Oh led the Thunder (1-12) with eight assists and four aces.
Merced's Serafin reaches final
TURLOCK Merced's Isabel Serafin will face Turlock's Jillian Temple in the Central California Conference singles finals on Thursday at the Turlock Country Club.
Both players went 3-0 on Tuesday to earn their way into the championship match.
Serafin defeated El Capitan's Eimine DeLaCruz 6-0, 6-1 in the first round.
She came back to defeat Turlock's Maddy Hillis 4-6, 7-5, 6-0 in the second round.
In the semifinals, Serafin topped Golden Valley's Danielle Vigil 6-3, 6-3.
Temple defeated Buhach Colony's Jasmine Herrera (6-0, 6-3), Merced's Natassja Magliba (6-2, 6-0) and Atwater's Catrina Velardi (7-5, 7-6) on her way to the finals.
The finals will be played at 11 a.m. Thursday.