time again but couldn’t shake a crafty and quick Diablo Valley
squad losing, a dramatic five-set marathon (19-25, 26-24, 18-25,
25-23, 13-15) in the first round of the Northern California
Community College Regional Playoffs on Tuesday night in Gilroy
GILROY — Five sets, disputed calls, long points and a raucous crowd. It had all the makings of a playoff game and then some.
The Gavilan College women’s volleyball team fought back time and time again but couldn’t shake a crafty and quick Diablo Valley squad losing, a dramatic five-set marathon (19-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-23, 13-15) in the first round of the Northern California Community College Regional playoffs Tuesday night in Gilroy.
“It was a battle, but unfortunately we came out of it on the wrong end,” third-year coach Kevin Kramer said. “We were fighting from behind all match and we didn’t have the last little push to get over the hump.”
The Rams (17-7) had to scramble for points after falling behind 6-1 in the fifth game. They began to chip away at the deficit, with sophomore Cheyenne Hambey knocking down two straight points, one via a kill and another off a block.
Gavilan inched closer as sophomores Tessa Fischer and Bri Romero powered down points to narrow the gap to just one at 8-7. Four exchanges later, the Rams tied the game then took the lead, 10-9.
The intensity continued to mount as the teams traded one-point leads.
After a crucial kill from Hambey, the Rams held serve at 13-13.
“I’m so glad that we battled through and had it at 13-13,” sophomore outside hitter Arica Hernandez said. “We all wanted it really bad.”
However, a double-hit error and a spike into the net brought the match to an abrupt halt and gave the visiting Vikings the win and a trip to the second round.
“Hambey got the big kill and I thought we had the momentum there,” Kramer said. “We just came up a little short.”
The Rams came out a bit discombobulated and out of sync in the opening set. Perhaps it was playoff jitters, or just a forgettable game, but they found themselves down 1-0 in the match.
“We found out who we were playing Saturday night and it is difficult to prepare for a team in one practice,” sophomore outside hitter Bri Romero said. “I guess we kinda came out a little slow in the beginning. You have to credit that team. They did what they had to do.”
Sensing some desperation, the Rams came out with more earnestness as spikes seemed to gain some power and shots began to find open floor.
With the second set knotted 24-24, a Vikings unforced error gave the Rams an opportunity to serve for the win. Hernandez didn’t let the opportunity slip away as she closed out the set with a crosscourt kill.
Despite the two teams playing even midway through the third set, the Vikings seized momentum with the score at 15-15, using a 10-3 scoring run to close out the game and, again, leave the Rams faced in a must-win situation.
“There’s no giving up ever,” Romero said. “You play to the last point and that’s what we did.”
The Rams survived the fourth set and put themselves in position to advance, but they ran out of steam.
Nonetheless, it was a memorable season for Kramer and his team. They became the first in program history to win a conference championship and qualify for the playoffs.
“The group of kids we had this year and the support of the fans and the other athletes on campus is what made the season,” Kramer said.
This story will run in Tuesday’s print edition