KINGSBURG - With playoff seeding on the line, Kingsburg came on top 6-3 over Selma in a rivalry match that also served as the Vikings’ senior night on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

The Vikings end the regular season at 11-5 overall record and a 9-3 finish in the Central Sequoia League. Kingsburg secured a second place finish in the CSL behind Central Valley Christian, who ended league play at 12-0. The Vikings will head into the Central Section Division IV playoffs as the No. 4 seed.

“We had some ups and downs in preseason, but they really started figuring out ‘If you give it your best effort, good things will happen,’” Vikings coach Tom Gramza said. “Tonight was a good example of that. Selma always fights really hard, which you have to respect.”

Kingsburg sweeps the season series over its rivals, winning the first matchup 6-3 on Sept. 26. It was a much-needed victory for a Vikings team coming a 5-4 heartbreaking loss to Exeter a week prior.

“We knew Selma would be tough,” Gramza said. “We had some tiebreaks, it could have gone either way...It was good competition. It was a good day. I’m just proud of the girls effort, the way they supported each other, and they way they kept fighting.”

Margaud Gales (No. 1), Hannah Hjelm (No. 3), Ekpreet Virk (No. 4), and Megan Stahl (No. 6) were victorious in singles play for the Vikings.

Gales finishes the regular season undefeated after a 6-1, 6-2 win over Selma’s top player Emily Sanchez. The Bears No. 1 lost twice to Gales this season, which were her only two losses in CSL play. Sanchez fell to Gales 6-0, 6-3 in their first meeting.

“She’s an outstanding player,” Sanchez said about Gales. “She could get to every ball. I felt like I played better the second time I played her. I did a lot of my shots. I rather have lost to her than to any other player.”

After Gales and Hjelm were victorious, Virk claimed a victory over Chloe Mendoza in one of two matches that ended in a tiebreaker. Playing in her final regular season home match, Virk, a senior, fell 1-6 in the first set before notching a 6-4 victory in the second set and coming out on top 12-10 in the tiebreaker.

Virk defeated Mendonza in straight sets 6-0, 6-1 in the matchup in September.

Virk said she was hitting flat in the first set, causing her to make adjustments to rally back for the victory.

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“I was hitting wide in the first set,” Virk said. “I just had to make little adjustments and think ‘Ok you got to brush up and hit more towards the middle’ and just close down on my targets.”

The Vikings took a 4-1 lead in singles after Stahl claimed a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Sega Moreno, but the Bears would still be alive with a win in the No. 5 match. Selma cut Kingsburg’s lead 4-2 after Anahi Soto nailed a 6-3, 1-6, (10-5) victory over Katie Tikkanen in the No. 5 matchup.

Down 4-2, the Bears had to win all three doubles matches to pull off the comeback.

Sanchez and Alina Lopez kept up their team’s momentum with a 8-1 victory in the No. 1 doubles match, but the Vikings sealed the win after Gales and Virk won 8-0 in the No. 2 showdown. Vikings No. 3 duo Abby Jobe and Summer Meija were also victorious in an 8-3 final.

Lopez was the other Selma Bear to get a victory in singles, defeating Zoe Van Buerden 6-2, 6-2 in the No. 2 match.

The Bears conclude the regular season at 12-11 overall and 8-4 in CSL play, which is good enough for a third place finish. Selma will enter the Division III playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

“From our overall record, Kingsburg has always competed with us and they always gotten the better of us the first half, but we’ve always come back in the second half,” Selma coach David Cortina said. “This time it just didn’t happen, but I’m proud of the way that my girls didn’t back down.”

Both teams went on to compete in the CSL Finals tournament at the Immanuel Sports Complex on Friday.

Up next

The Vikings will have a first round bye in the Division IV playoffs, which starts today. Kingsburg will face No. 5 Woodlake in the quarterfinals on Nov. 5. Woodlake also had a first round bye. The Vikings have made two separate playoffs runs to the Valley title match during the past two seasons.

The Bears will host No. 9 Yosemite in the opening round of the Division III playoffs today. Last year, Selma advance all the way to the Division III semifinals.

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The reporter can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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