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SELMA - After 17 ties in the fifth and decisive set, the Bears clinched a 3-2 victory over the Kerman Lions (6-2) after winning the set 23-21 in a non-league home game on Thursday.

The set scores were 21-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-21, 23-21. Selma improved its record to 4-0 after the victory and the five-set battle served as a good test for the Bears, who will start a tough Central Sequoia League schedule next week against Central Valley Christian on Sept. 10.

“Kerman was ready to play,” Selma head coach Montana Kaufmann said. “When we got to the fifth set, it was all or nothing. We didn’t want to disappoint our fans and we didn’t want to disappoint each other.”

In an exciting fifth set, Selma took eight leads while Kerman had 10. After the Bears took a 22-21 lead, sophomore outside hitter Lexa Gallardo earned the team’s match point with a kill.

“We really pushed through, worked as a team,” Gallardo said. “We got down a little bit, but we picked ourselves up and we played with our hearts and everything that we had out there.”

Down 2-1, Selma forced a fifth set by winning the fourth set 25-21. In the fourth set, the Bears went down early with deficits of 1-7 and 3-9, but they eventually went on a 9-0 run to gain a 12-9 lead. After a 13-13 tie, Selma didn’t squander the lead, holding multiple slim leads of one, two, and three points margins.

All sets were highly competitive starting with the first, which saw the Bears go up 9-2 to start. That lead dwindled down to three points (9-6) and six ties would ensued. After a 19-19 tie - the final tie of the set - the Lions went on a 6-2 run to clinch the set.

Selma tied the game score 1-1 after winning the second set 25-23, a set that had eight ties and six lead changes. Kerman won the third set 25-18, despite a comeback from the Bears. The Lions gained a 9-17 lead, the largest of any team in the game, but Selma got within four with the score at 17-21. The Lions took advantage of unforced errors from the Bears to clinch the set.

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Setter Mia Salinas said the win should boost the team’s confidence moving forward.

“With a win like this, it really helps us go into season a little bit stronger,” Salinas said. “I feel like our bond on the court is so much stronger.”

Salinas had 30 assists, Laila Gallardo had 50 digs, while Danielle Leon had 13 kills and Jasmine Lozano had nine kills. 

Kaufmann said this year’s squad has unbelievable chemistry compared to the teams during her first two years as coach.

“Their chemistry is nothing I’ve seen before with Selma,” Kaufmann said. “Even our lower levels are playing at such a high level, so it’s been cool to see what I’ve been able to grow these past two years.”

The Bears started the season with a 3-1 (25-20, 27-29, 25-23, 25-19) win over Fresno High on Aug. 20, followed by a 3-0 victory over Roosevelt on Aug. 22. In its home opener, Selma earned a 3-1 (25-23, 24-26, 25-15, 25-21) win over Sierra on Aug. 27.

Selma last competed at a tournament at Clovis High, playing on Friday and Saturday (after press time). The Bears also played Madera High in a non-league road game on Tuesday (after press time).

Selma will seek to continue its early season success in a non-league road game against Orange Cove on Thursday. After, the Bears will compete at a tournament in Madera on Friday and Saturday. Selma will start CSL play on the road against CVC on Sept. 10.

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Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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