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Merced volleyball cements success with berth in playoffs

Merced isn't just a football factory.

The volleyball team has proved that with its surprising run in the playoffs.

No. 15 Merced (18-8) will travel to No. 3 Davis Sr. today at 7 p.m. in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.

In Division IV, No. 7 Hilmar travels to No. 6 Christian Brothers in another semifinal matchup.

A win would put Merced in its first section final since 1981.

"It's still pretty unbelievable," Merced coach Brooke Wilson said. "We were just happy to be in the playoffs.

"To be where we are now proved that our girls belonged there."

Merced has won both its playoff matches in dramatic fashion.

It overcame an 0-2 deficit to knock off No. 2 seed Fairfield Rodriguez in five games in the first round.

Merced against found itself trailing 2-1 on Thursday to No. 10 Folsom before winning the final two games to win another five-game thriller.

"It's been a fun run," said senior Erika Marmolejo. "It's been crazy.

"I think it was unexpected for a lot of people. But not us.

"When we were down 2-0 to Rodriguez, people actually started leaving the gym. They thought it was over."

The playoff success has caught the attention on campus.

Wilson was flooded with e-mails and her cell phone has been ringing off the hook with people congratulating her on the playoff wins.

"The girls are getting recognized for their hard work," Wilson said.

"Coaches from other sports have talked to them on campus.

"Michelle Osmer sent me an e-mail and (Matt) Thissen has been calling."

Merced will face a Davis team with size and speed.

"They play a quick game that we haven't really seen," Wilson said.

"Each team that we've faced has been a little different than what we've faced.

"Davis has quite a bit of height and they run some really quick sets."

Don't expect the long bus ride to Davis to play a factor.

Merced had to make two-hour trips to both Fairfield and Folsom.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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