Pacheco’s volleyball team had its back to the wall against Ceres before coming back to win in four games.
After Ceres, winless in the Western Athletic Conference, won the first set 25-22 and almost came back from a 24-19 deficit before losing 26-24 in the second, the Bulldogs had a 24-16 lead in a crucial third game.
With Brianna Chappelear serving, the Panthers went on a 10-point run to win 26-24. Chappelear hit two straight aces to make it 24-23, followed by a Ceres error and another Chappelear ace to give Pacheco a 25-24 lead. A Ceres spike into the net finished the set.
“(Chappelear was) huge, and the fact that we put it in play for that long and didn’t succumb to the nerves,” Pacheco coach Cory Henwood said. “I was nervous over there. So I’m sure she was, and she did a great job. The whole team, not just her. The whole team didn’t drop any easy ones, but kept the defense up.”
That swell of momentum was shot-lived for Pacheco when Ceres jumped out to a 16-7 lead in the fourth game, where a Ceres win would have forced a decisive fifth game. But this time Jen Eagleton took the serve for Pacheco for an 11-point run.
“They’re fighters. We are a momentum-based team, so that showed,” Henwood said. “When their momentum was high, we were swinging away.”
After a few back-and-forth points, a Heidi Villegas ace gave Pacheco a 22-21 lead. Two Ceres errors later, another Villegas ace gave the Panthers the final point.
Eagleton and outside hitter Nicole Terry led the Panthers with 8 kills, followed by Quintero with 6 and the trio of Villegas, Sabrina Diaz and Chappelear with 5. Eagleton added 9 aces, and Chappelear finished with 4. Setter Linda Thompson finished the night with 18 assists, and Quintero blocked 6 Ceres spikes. Ceres’ Sara Graham racked up 9 kills, and Sabrina Baisdon added 22 digs, 17 assists and 5 aces.
The Panthers improved to 3-5 with the win, and Henwood said the playoff aren’t out of the question yet.
“We need to win three more. Out of our last four. Which is a possibility,” Henwood said. “We had a really close game with Livingston, and we could certainly have a better game against LB and Patterson. Patterson is a team we can beat, LB is a team we have a possibility to beat, a little more of an outside shot because they’re on fire right now, they’re on a roll. If we beat one of those two teams, then we’re probably going to be in. It’s just a matter of we need to do it.”
Los Banos, meanwhile, dropped its first set of the WAC season with a 26-24 loss in the third game against Patterson. LB won the other three sets 25-15, 25-10 and 25-6 to win 3-1 and stay undefeated in league play.