SELMA – It was nine years since the Selma High volleyball team made the playoffs.
And in its first trip to the postseason since 2008, the Bears made sure their postseason run lasted longer than one match.
Hosting its first playoff game in 25 years, Selma opened the Central Section Division V playoffs with a 25-17, 25-23, 25-15 win over Immanuel Christian of Ridgecrest.
Selma, the No. 5 seed, advances to this week's quarterfinals at No. 4 Fresno Christian, which defeated No. 13 Laton 3-2.
Going into the playoffs, the Bears went 12-16 including a 1-9 run through the tough Central Sequoia League that included teams that earned high seeds in higher divisions; that includes Central Valley Christian, Exeter and Dinuba.
Selma coach Montana Lowe believed that, even though the Bears struggled in league play, they'd be up for making its first postseason run since before all the current players were born.
“From the day I was hired, the goal was to make the playoffs,” Lowe said. “I didn't see why we couldn't make it to the Division V championship.”
In its playoff opener, Selma faced an Immanuel Christian team that's new to the Central Section.
The Crusaders came in with a record of 20-14-4 after winning the Hi-Lo League with a 10-0 league record. Immanuel Christian traveled 210 miles to reach Selma.
But the Bears made the drive back feel even longer after quickly taking the first set, then rallying after trailing nearly the entire second set.
Leading 9-6 in the first set, Selma went on an 11-2 run that took control of the set with the Bears getting kills from all round.
In the second set, Selma trailed at 22-20 before a kill from Gurleen Brar kicked off a 5-1 run to end the threat.
In the third, the Bears cruised to finish off the match, picking up its first playoff victory in more than two decades.
Lowe said it took the Bears a little while to get used to the Cavaliers’ style.
“The girls didn't know what to expect,” Lowe said. “They had been used to sitting back and having balls hit right at their faces. They were able to be more aggressive.”
Outside hitter Caitlyn Hansen, who led the team with 19 kills, 14 digs and four aces, said it was exciting to compete in the postseason after Selma had such a prolonged drought.
“It was a little nerve-wrecking at first,” Hansen said. “But it was nice that we were able to make a little bit of history.”
Other standouts for Selma included Caylin Lopez (30 assists, eight digs), Genesis Rodriguez (14 digs), Laila Gallardo (four aces) and Brar (seven kills).
Going into the quarterfinals, Lowe said playing against tough CSL competition will mean more as the quality of opponents improves. Getting that first playoff win and ending Selma's drought was special, Lowe said.
Said Lowe, “It's a good feeling.”