Sophomore Emily Bapista is one of the best players in Merced County. Brittney Fielder, Alexis Alvernaz and Whitney Williams can also put balls away.
However, the Yellowjackets didn’t come out with the heavy artillery against Summerville. Hilmar seemed content to do just enough to win comfortably, 25-8, 25-19, 25-18 over the Bears in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs on Tuesday night.
“This team team will sometimes play to the competition,” said Hilmar coach Patti Harris. “Not to say anything bad about Summerville, but if we’re playing a tough team they’ll play up. If a team takes them to five games, they know they can do it.”
The second-seeded Yellowjackets (35-7) seemed to know early that they could put away Summerville (15-7-1) and save some energy for Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup with Ripon Christian, which defeated Amador 3-1.
Hilmar used an 8-0 run to seize control of the first game 15-4. Bapista led the way early with four of her 11 kills.
“I think because we didn’t have school yesterday we were all tired,” said Baptista, who added three aces. “We didn’t have a lot of energy. We just really played together. We know we’re going to need to pick it up. This is the playoffs and anything can happen. Everyone is good. We can’t underestimate anybody.”
The final two games were more competitive but the Yellowjackest always seemed like they could take control of the game if they needed. Whenever Summerville made the game close, Hilmar was able to put a mini run together to open up a lead.
Pearce orchestrated the offense efficiently, finishing with 32 assists. Brittany Fielder played big at the net, recording three blocks. Libero Val Ewing made it tough for Summerville to score as she covered the back row with 31 digs.
“We played alright,” Pearce said. “We could have done a lot better. Our passing was off, but we still played well. We came out positive and played together.”
St. Francis 3, Merced 0
El Camino 3, Atwater 0
Hannah van Warmerdam paced Atwater with 14 kills and 13 digs. Brigetter Berlier added 14 digs.
Los Banos 3, Ripon 0
Julia Waldron added 18 assists for No. 6 seed Los Banos, which will face No. 3 seed Bear River in the quarterfinals on Thursday.