DINUBA – The Dinuba High volleyball team exhibited the effect of having no live competition in nearly two weeks during its non-league contest against Selma High on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Having not played a match against another school since a road loss at Justin Garza High on Aug. 31, the Emperors (3-3) rallied from a mistake-filled two-set deficit to square the match against the Bears at Dinuba High gym. But unforced errors combined with some key Selma hits resulted in a 15-10 win for the Bears in the decisive set. Scores for the first four sets were 25-17, 25-21, 25-15 and 25-18.
Dinuba coach Sonny Perez said mental intensity from his team has been missing, which didn’t help with the long layoff.
“To be honest, we haven’t been present in our practices,” he said. “Yesterday’s practice was unbelievably terrible, and that energy is what you’re going to bring into your match. We haven’t played in two weeks, but those are just excuses. The truth is, we have not been here.”
Selma coach Kelsey Lopez, meanwhile, was happy with the intensity and performance of her Division V team that improved to 6-1 on the season.
“I’ve said (to the players) that every game is going to be won with defense, that’s what it all comes down to,” she said. “They saw what we were doing, they put their defense back and we had to adjust our defense, and I think that’s what won us the game.”
The coach especially praised her captain and middle hitter Stacy Garcia, whose net play and serving at key points helped push the Bears to the finish line.
In the decisive set, Dinuba seemed poised to finish off a roaring comeback by running off four unanswered points – capped off by a dazzling play that fell in bounds – to take a 6-4 lead.
However, the Emperors’ defense and passing suddenly went south during a four-point service run by Marina Hernandez. After Dinuba tied the score at seven, Bears middle hitter Chantel Rodriguez made a five-point service run that caused errant passes and hits by the hosts.
The 12-7 deficit was too much for the Emps to overcome, despite a kill from Mia Lopez to make it 13-8 and a missed Selma serve to make it 14-9. The Bears closed out the match with a strong service receive and pinpoint dink from Garcia that landed in bounds in the far corner.
Dinuba will try for a quick bounceback, but have to do it on the road against Kingsburg High on Thursday, Sept. 14. The Emperors open the West Yosemite League season at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19 at home against Hanford High, followed by a road match against Tulare Western on Thursday, Sept. 21.
Dinuba High will get its tournament season underway by participating in the Visalia Varsity Invitational on Sept. 22-23, and later participate in the rescheduled Stockton Classic the first weekend of October.