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Confidence restored: GV's Davidson keys victory over Atwater

ATWATER -- Courtney Vyfhuizen knows when to go to the hot hand.

The Golden Valley setter turned to Kaitlin Davidson Monday night.

Davidson came up big down the stretch with three kills, helping the Golden Valley volleyball team escape with a marathon 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 25-15, 15-12 victory over Atwater.

"We were trying to pull their block to the middle," said Vyfhuizen, who had 46 assists. "We wanted to keep pounding the ball down the line."

Davidson helped GV overcome a 5-0 deficit in the fifth game and finished with a match-high 18 kills.

"I was worried about Kaitlin earlier in the match," said Golden Valley coach Matt Thissen, whose team improved to 3-1 in the Central California Conference.

"She seemed to have lost confidence. It looked like she didn't want the ball and I contemplated taking her out.

"All it took were a couple good swings and she was on fire."

Davidson wasn't the only player Thissen was worried about after GV blew a 23-15 lead in the first game.

Thissen watched Atwater run off eight straight points to tie the game at 23-23.

After Atwater (2-2 CCC) finished off the 26-24 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match, Thissen -- who often takes his team out of the gym before a fifth game -- pulled his team out for a quick meeting.

"That's the first time I've ever done it after the first game and the first time I've pulled a team outside and didn't yell.

"We had trouble last year and a little this year with our mental toughness. I was happy with the way they responded after losing that first game."

Atwater (2-2) battled with GV the entire match.

Alysha McCreary finished with nine blocks in her first match with Atwater after transferring from Buhach Colony.

Kahea Smith recorded nine kills and three aces for Atwater.

However, Atwater squandered leads of 5-0 and 10-7 in the fifth game.

"We came out strong at first in the last game and then we lost focus," Atwater coach Sonny Masaniai said. "We couldn't pass and we couldn't put it away."

Golden Valley scored eight of the final 10 points in the last game to seal the match.

Gianna Bandoni tallied 13 kills and three blocks and Celeste Castillo finished with nine kills and six blocks for GV.

Castillo's kill to close out the fifth game set off a wild celebration with Golden Valley players storming the court.

"Everybody came out a little tense and nervous in the fifth game," Vyfhuizen said.

"Somehow we were able to pull though. It feels awesome."



Merced kept pace with the CCC leaders after sweeping Turlock 25-14, 25-16, 25-14.

Kelsie Hanson led the way with seven kills and Hillary Kerschman blocked four shots.

Merced (3-1 CCC) will travel to Atwater on Wednesday for a key CCC matchup.



LOS BANOS -- Buhach Colony kept its undefeated record with a 25-18, 25-14, 25-22 win.

Alyssa Wakefield and Becca Osmer both finished with eight kills apiece.

Osmer also tied Kayla Clarot for a team-high 21 digs.

BC improved to 4-0 in the CCC and 5-3 overall.