KINGSBURG - From start to finish, the 2-seeded Vikings dominated No. 15 North Bakersfield in a sweep over the Stars in the opening round of the CIF Central Section Division IV playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 31.
Kingsburg (18-19, 7-5 CSL) held North (11-13-1, SEYL) to under 20 points in each set, which was the second consecutive time that the Vikings held their opponent below that amount. The set scores were 25-11, 25-18, 25-10.
“We worked together really well,” Kingsburg outside hitter Cambria Brandon said. “Tonight, we were just on, so it was a good game.”
The Vikings last faced No. 10 Highland (16-14, 6-4 SEYL) in the quarterfinals on Tuesday (after press time).
As for the playoff opener, the Vikings started the first set with a 9-2 run and would continuously build its lead. After extending its lead to a 14-9 advantage, Kingsburg closed the set with a dominating 11-2 run and Brandon scored the Vikings’ match point on a kill.
The Stars opened the second set by scoring the first point, which was one of two times that Kingsburg fell behind all night. North’s other lead was at 5-4 in the same set. That lead was short lived after the Vikings scored three consecutive points and eventually pulled away with a 20-13 advantage. Kingsburg earned the match point on a serving error from North.
The Vikings played without outside hitter Jennah Torres, one of the team’s captains, for the majority of the second set and the entirety of the third. She left the game with an ankle injury during the second set and at the time of her departure, the Vikings led 8-6.
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Middle blocker Olivia Doyle said the team was inspired to win after Torres went down.
“I think that showed a lot of maturity and compassion for their teammate and wanting to play hard for somebody that just went down and understanding that this is a win or go home situation,” Kingsburg coach Brittany Henderson said. “They wanted to give her another opportunity to come back and play.”
Despite being without one of their captains, the Vikings played its best set of the night during the third. Kingsburg started with an 11-2 lead and nearly held North to single digits. The Vikings built their largest lead of the night at 23-9 and a kill from Canon Brandon cemented Kingsburg’s victory.
“We really pulled it together,” Doyle said. “Injuries make it difficult, so when one of our captains got injured, it was a little bit difficult, but we definitely came back and play really well.”
During the past two years, the Vikings have suffered heartbreaking losses in the semifinals. Last year, they were swept 3-0 by Chowchilla and they fell 3-1 to Immanuel in 2017. Doyle, a senior, said it’s vital for this year’s group to get over the semifinal hump.
“It’s our last chance and we’ve had the semis curse,” Doyle said. “To get, hopefully, over that will be very exciting.”
The Division IV semifinals will take place on Thursday and the Central Section championships will be played at the Porter Fieldhouse at the College of the Sequoias on Saturday. As of press time, the start times for Central Section championships have not been announced.