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HANFORD — For the Bullpups, Wednesday’s West Yosemite League match was another building block for the future. Hanford (2-9, 1-6 WYL) suffered a 9-0 loss to Mt. Whitney and its third in a row, but continued to make strides in the right direction.

Hanford’s Jenna Searcy, No. 2 on the ladder, put together the best match of the day for the Bullpups. The junior battled hard in the first set rallying back-and-forth on multiple points before giving way 7-5.

“I just figured out how she liked to play and I just used that to my advantage,” Searcy said.

After laboring through the first set, fatigue and frustration began to set in during the second set and showed in the final result as she went down 6-0.

“I was really tired because I hadn’t eaten lunch and then I started to get really frustrated with some of my shots and then she didn’t so she pushed through and I didn’t,” Searcy said.

The rest of singles were a struggle for the Bullpups, but much of it had to do because the girls were playing two spots up from where they usually compete. In two weeks, the Bullpups lost their No. 1 and No. 2 players due to transferring and injury.

“The girls are not used to playing a higher or tougher opponent and it becomes a little tough for us and it’s hard for them to adjust to a tougher player,” Hanford coach Alex Ibarra said.

The result of playing two spots up in a short amount of time was losing 6-0 in almost all six singles. Aside from Searcy, No. 1 Sadie Avila was the only other player to salvage a point in singles.

Avila lost 6-1, 6-0, while No. 3 Jennifer Esparza, No. 4 Erlinda Apodaca, No. 5 Cassandra Torres and No. 6 Ysabel Manalo all lost 6-0, 6-0. Ibarra said the girls like the challenge of playing up, but at the end of the day, they can only do so much in the short amount of time they’ve had.

“It’s always better to play up, but when you move up two spots it’s a little tougher,” Ibarra said. “It’s going to be one of those things where we have to keep on practicing and hitting more balls until they get it right.”

In doubles, it was the team of Avila and Searcy who came closest to stealing a match. They led 5-4, but the Pioneers won the next four games to take the match 8-5. The No. 2 doubles team of Esparza and Apodaca, and No. 3 team of Alayah Estrella and Cecilia Camacho both lost 8-1.

Although not apparent on the score, the Bullpups have continued to improve each week and have shown promise not seen in years past. According to MaxPreps, the two victories the team has this season is equal to the amount they had from 2015-2018.

The team has also continued to consistently score points against opponents where in the past it was nearly nonexistent. As the team continues their season, the goal of winning remains the same.

“We want to win for starters,” Searcy said. “We really want to keep that positive attitude. We want this to be a good season win or lose. This is our family and we want to keep it that way.”

Hanford will travel to face Redwood on Monday at 4 p.m. The Rangers defeated Hanford 9-0 in the first WYL match on Sept. 12.

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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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