DINUBA – The Dinuba High volleyball team shook off a difficult road struggle from a night earlier, riding the emotion of a large turnout at its home gym to seize early control of a non-league matchup against its area rival Reedley High on Aug. 22.
The Emperors (3-0) started fast and rolled to a 25-15 victory in the opening set before the visiting Reedley team (1-1) matched them most of the way in sets two and three. But Dinuba cranked it up down the stretch in both instances to pull out a 25-21 win and then complete the sweep by a 27-25 score.
Dinuba coach Sonny Perez was pleased with his team’s solid performance at home and as it bounced back from a close call at Hanford West on Aug. 21. The Emperors trailed 2-1 in sets before pulling out a 25-23 win to even the match, and then survived the shorter and dangerous fifth set by a 15-13 score to remain unbeaten.
“Hanford West always gives us a little trouble over the years, we still lack discipline and focus when playing and it’s why we lose big leads,” Perez said. “I will give it to these athletes, they do know how to grind and will always try to do their best.”
Senior setter Andrea Parra was a key factor to the Dinuba victory with a strong all-around match. “She played with fire and her serves and passing-defense (were) a difference maker,” Perez said. Mari Lopez also led the team in kills.
Reedley coach Ken Tatami called the big match atmosphere – featuring a capacity crowd with cheerleaders and student body for both sides – an “amazing environment” to play in early in the season, and felt it played a factor in the match.
“The crowd seemed to really affect my players, especially since we are so young, and it showed in the score,” he said. “It was a good learning experience for us, one that we will be able to take with us into the league play and hopefully into the postseason.”
The Pirates were led by senior outside hitter Jamilah Taylor, who finished with six kills. Olivia Nourian had four kills while senior libero Ashlee Chavez and junior outside hitter Keilani Kim added three kills apiece.
Dinuba gets a brief break from its early three-match win streak, returning to action Tuesday, Aug. 29 at home against Porterville High in a scheduled 6:30 p.m. start. Reedley, meanwhile, hosts Edison in a non-league match scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 24, then will compete in the two-day Morro Bay Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 25-26.