Moments before a fifth game in volleyball can be extremely stressful.
Each mistake is magnified in a race to 15 points with the game on the line.
Stress doesn’t bother Atwater High’s team, though.
The Falcon players were huddled on the sideline before taking the court for game five.
Last minute strategy?
A motivational speech to get everyone fired up?
No, the topic of conversation was dancing.
The Falcons came out loose and it helped propel them to a 25-20, 14-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-11 win over Golden Valley on Thursday night at Cougar Arena.
“That’s kind of who we are,” said junior Brigette Berlier, who finished with 24 kills, 24 digs and four aces. “We have to find a way to relax before that serious moment before a game. We joke around.”
The Falcons (4-2 Central California Conference) leaned on Berlier and Hannah Van Warmerdam to carry the offense.
Atwater’s dynamic duo was up to the task with Van Warmerdam also recorded 24 kills, 24 digs, five aces and 12 blocks.
“We knew they would only have two players taking a swing,” said Golden Valley coach Matt Thissen, whose team fell to 4-2 in the CCC. “I thought our block would have been a lot more effective.
“Atwater did a good job of hiding their hitters. They moved them around, taking swings in the middle and outside. Unfortunately, we lost them a lot tonight.”
Atwater setter Carolyn Schiber orchestrated the offense with 45 assists. Belen Castillo paced the Cougars with 26 kills, seven blocks, 15 digs and five aces. Ky Moore added seven kills and six blocks.
Golden Valley closed out the fourth game by winning four of the final five points to send the match to a deciding fifth game.
The Falcons quickly took control in the final game, jumping out to a 6-2 lead and later 11-4 to force Thissen to burn his two timeouts.
Camille Flores and Castillo each recorded kills to help pull the Cougars within 13-11.
That’s when Van Warmerdam took over, recording back-to-back kills to end the game.
As the final ball hit off a Golden Valley player and fell to the ground the Falcons celebrated.
“I think we jumped so high,” Berlier said. “We did it. We finished it. It felt amazing.”
Turlock 3, Buhach Colony 2
ATWATER -- Rachel Andrews recorded 24 kills and two blocks, but it wasn't enough to lift the Thunder past Turlock. The Bulldogs outlasted Buhach Colony 25-18, 17-25, 14-25, 25-20, 23-21.
Nalleli Contreras added 11 kills, eight digs and two aces for BC.
Pitman 3, Merced 0
TURLOCK -- Angelica Harding's 15 kills helped the Pride (6-0 CCC) defeat the Bears 25-14, 25-22, 25-15.
Summer Sanchez led Merced (2-4 CCC) with 24 assists