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Playoffs set to begin for tennis, volleyball

In this Aug. 20, 2019, Sentinel file photo, Sierra Pacific's Kaitlyn McKee hits the ball during the first set of a non-league match against Hanford at Hanford High School. Sierra Pacific was awarded the No. 1 seed in the Division IV playoff bracket.

After putting together their best regular season in program history, the Sierra Pacific girls volleyball team was awarded the top seed in the CIF Central Section Division IV playoffs on Saturday.

The team will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and enters the postseason on an eight-match winning streak. Sierra Pacific is making its third playoff appearance in a row.

“We had a strong showing program wide this year going undefeated in league for all three levels in our program,” first-year Sierra Pacific head coach Julie Coelho said via email. “Varsity only allowed one four-game set all league and it was our first match against Woodlake.”

The Golden Bears finished 30-6 overall and a perfect 12-0 in the East Sequoia League. According to MaxPreps, the league championship was the team’s first ever and the 30 wins broke their previous record of 24 wins set back in 2012. The 12 league wins was also a program-best after they won a then-best nine last season.

“Although our league was not the most competitive, we have been focusing on setting the pace and controlling our side of the court at all times,” Coelho said.

It’s Sierra Pacific’s first year back in Division IV after competing at a high level in Division V the last two seasons, including a Central Section championship appearance in 2017.

Sierra Pacific’s Ashlan VanGronigen led the team with 148 kills and had the highest kill percentage at 43.1 percent (min. 200 attempts). She also had team highs with 31 aces and 13 blocks.

Klarissa Solorio had 115 digs and Madalyn Lemos followed with 112, while Amie Walker had 298 assists for the Golden Bears.

“We are hungry and will continue to put in the work at practice this week leading up to our home playoff game on Thursday,” Coelho said. “A seed means nothing we still have a lot to prove to ourselves, and my team and myself are looking forward to the postseason.”

Sierra Pacific will face 16-seed McFarland on Thursday at Sierra Pacific High School at 7 p.m. The Cougars were 14-16-2 overall and went 5-7 in the South Sequoia League, which put them in a tie for fourth place. McFarland lost its final two matches of the season.

7 Hanford vs. 10 Fresno Christian

The Bullpups ended the regular season 10-15 overall and 3-7 in the West Yosemite League, but still landed the No. 7 seed in Division V.

It’s the first playoff game for the Bullpups since 2014 and it will be at home against No. 10 seed Fresno Christian at 7 p.m. The Eagles (15-17, 9-0 ESL) have won eight matches in a row and were the East Sierra League champions.

Hanford’s Druegan Davis led the team in kills (167), kill percentage (30.5) and was second in aces (23). Melissa Hernandez and Kylie Maya combined for 45 blocks and Lisa Reynaga had a team-best 223 digs.

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Girls Tennis

8 Sierra Pacific vs. 9 Exeter

Sierra Pacific is back in the playoffs after missing them the previous two seasons and will host a Division-V first-round match against Exeter on Wednesday.

“Our team is focused on playing their best regardless of which team they’re playing against,” Sierra Pacific coach Ken Gong said. “They are highly motivated, highly focused and, hopefully, when the match occurs, they let it out on the court and may the best team win.”

After winning a combined five matches the previous two seasons, the Golden Bears went 8-6 overall this year and 5-5 in the ESL. They’re the No. 8 seed and the Monarchs are the No. 9 seed.

“The biggest challenge is to ensure all the girls recognize the importance of the match,” Gong said. “That they play the best they can to the best of their abilities and if they do that then results, hopefully, will show their efforts, but regardless of the outcome their coach is very proud of them this year.”

Exeter was 7-12 this season and 5-6 in the Central Sequoia League where they finished in second.

The match is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Sierra Pacific High School.

“This season has had its ups and downs, mostly ups,” Gong said. “We are very happy and proud to make the playoffs after two years and we’re looking forward to playing the match on Wednesday.”

5 Lemoore vs. 12 Hoover

Lemoore had another successful season and earned themselves a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs.

The Tigers went 11-8 in the regular and ended third in the WYL with an even 5-5 record. They were given the No. 5 seed and will host No. 12 seed Hoover (4-9, 4-4 PL) on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Lemoore enters the playoffs having won its final three matches of the season, including two 9-0 sweeps. They’re led by No. 1 Aliana Cabuhat who went 7-5 at the top this season. All six of their singles players had winning records this season.

The Patriots won their final match of the season, but lost their previous four before that.

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

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