With her team trailing by three points late in the second game, Atwater coach Toni Garcia sat back in her chair and watched.
She wanted to see how her team would respond.
Garcia liked what she saw.
Brigette Berlier came up with a big kill to end a long rally to tie the game at 24-all. Teammate Hannah Van Warmerdam later closed out the game with two straight kills as the Falcons opened the season with a 25-12, 27-25, 25-23 win over Los Banos on Tuesday night.
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“You kind of hold off calling timeouts because you want to see what they’re going to do,” Garcia said. “How are they going to respond? You want to see what they’re made of.
“Something we have to learn as a team is to keep the energy up throughout the whole game. We can’t just have it in spurts.”
The Falcons hope to be competing with the top teams in the Central California Conference.
Atwater returns a strong nucleus with Van Warmerdam (18 kills and eight aces), Berlier (13 kills and 10 digs), setter Carolyn Schiber (34 assists and five aces) and middle blocker Jalynn Harrison (seven blocks).
“We definitely have a nice core of girls coming back,” Garcia said. “The girls coming on the court are doing a great job of filling in around them.”
The Falcons have to make up for a lack of height with strong play outside and good defense.
“We all have to work really hard,” Van Warmerdam said. “Everybody has to do what they do well.”
Sophomore Jade Fachin turned in a nice all-around game for the Tigers with 11 kills and eight digs, but Los Banos struggled controlling the ball.
Bad passes made it tough for the Tigers to orchestrate their attack and made it easy for Atwater to string points together throughout the match.
The Falcons closed out the first match by scoring 10 of the final 11 points.
Atwater scored six straight points late in the second game and later closed out the game with a 5-1 run.
The Falcons were able to close out the match in three games while allowing many of their reserves to play.
“I think for the first game, it went very well,” Van Warmderdam said. “I think we were all excited for this one because it was the first game of the season.”
Clovis East 3, Golden Valley 1
Kabrina Beekman recorded 21 kills and 11 aces as Clovis East defeated the Cougars 19-25, 25-20, 25-17, 27-25. Belen Castillo led Golden Valley (0-1) with nine kills and three aces.