VISALIA – Once you make it to the postseason, your record in the regular season does not matter anymore. If you made it to the dance, you still have a shot. And Golden West volleyball has made the most out of that shot as the No. 11 seed in the Central Section Division 4 playoffs.
After opening the postseason with a 3-2 win (25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-11) on the road over Caruthers, the Trail Blazers stayed hot on Thursday night, Oct. 26, against Dinuba. Now playing on their home court, Golden West defeated Dinuba, 3-0, (25-17, 25-11, 25-18) to advance to the semifinals.
The Blazers went into the postseason with a losing record, but have now improved to 14-17. With three straight wins now, Golden West head coach Kayla Swift believes the Blazers are finding their stride at the right time.
“It felt really good to win in this gym tonight. This group of girls is special and they played together and they played consistently,” Swift said. “We’ve had two hard fought games against El Diamante in league and then Caruthers in the first round of the playoffs and those two five-set matches prepared us to come in tonight and do our job in three.”
Many Blazers played well in order for them to advance in the postseason. Shianne Davis led the team with 16 kills while also recording 14 digs and 2.0 total blocks. Amanda Caudillo also played well with 13 kills and ten digs. Other contributors for Golden West include Riley Hendrix with 37 assists and Emily Enriquez with 21 digs.
The Blazers did have a slow start to the night as the Emperors took a 7-4 lead in the first set. But the Blazers got in a rhythm with a 6-0 run to take a 10-7 lead. Over the rest of the contest, the Blazers slowly pulled away to win, 25-17, to take a 1-0 lead in the match. As the Blazers won the opening set, Caudillo believes it was their energy that gave them control.
“We all just supported each other,” Caudillo said. “We brought each other up, cheered on every point, celebrated and kept the energy high.”
The energy stayed high as the Blazers raced out to a 15-5 lead to start the second. Dinuba failed to respond as the Golden West rolled to a 25-11 victory to take a 2-0 advantage on the night. As the Blazers kept rolling, they did not let their few mistakes allow the Emperors to come back.
“We just slowed down if we started to get messy,” Caudillo said. “We were just calming down and we just kept bringing each other up, just kept getting more points and not letting them score anymore.”
Looking to close out the night, the Blazers raced out to a 21-12 lead in the third. The Emperors found some momentum with a 6-2 run to cut their deficit to 23-18. But the Blazers scored two straight points to win, 25-18, to finish the match and clinch their spot in the semifinals.
With their loss to Golden West, the Emperors’ season came to an end. They finished the year with a 12-18 record but won their postseason opener against Immanuel. With a three-set loss to end the year, Dinuba head coach Sonny Perez believes this match exemplified their issues throughout this season.
“We were up and down and inconsistent. How we played today is exactly indicative of how we were this whole season,” Perez said. “We started off undefeated and then just went on a skid. And then we were up and down and up and down.”
Now the Blazers will prepare for their semifinal match on the road against Fresno Christian. With the run they have been on so far this postseason, the Blazers will be looking to keep it going as they now try to advance to the finals
“It’s just the desire to not want it to end,” Swift said. “These girls aren’t finished with each other and I’m not finished with them as a coach. We started this back when we were together this summer, I knew the bigger picture was the playoffs. I knew our league was tough and it got us prepared for what we were going to see come playoff time.”
The result of the semifinal match between Golden West and Fresno Christian volleyball on Oct. 31 came in after this report.