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Panthers overwhelm Yellowjackets' stingy defense
A valiant defensive effort by the Williams High varsity volleyball team slowed Maxwell on Tuesday, but the Panthers offense proved to be too strong.
The Panthers rallied from behind in the first and third games to win 25-16, 25-10, 25-23 at home in the second Mid-Valley League contest of the season for both teams.
Williams took a 14-12 lead in the first game after Neida Garcia and Noemi Ibarra served two aces apiece, but Maxwell's Jenna Powell caught fire late in the game and slammed five kills to the court floor.
Ashley Azevedo served two aces, and Taylor Perry and Kaily McKinley notched kills for a quick 4-0 Maxwell lead in Game 2.
Mayra Ramos cut the Panthers' lead to 16-8 with three consecutive aces, but Azevedo helped hold the Yellowjackets at bay with a kill and another ace.
The Yellowjackets caught the Panthers off guard with three quick bump returns which fell for points in the third game.
"We were just lazy today and that happens. We're not a perfect team but we try our hardest and we really try to work as a team," Maxwell junior setter Shelen Boyes said.
An ace by Ibarra gave the Yellowjackets a 23-22 lead before Maxwell's Jessica Jenkins earned a side out with a kill, and Powell sealed the sweep with back-to-back aces.
Maxwell (7-2, 2-0 MVL) continues to impress under the guidance of new coach, Dan Gellermann, a year after the Panthers won just one match.
Boyes credits Gellermann for helping turn the team into a winning program by focusing on fundamentals.
"He's definitely taught me a different way of setting that works with my hands better. I'm very happy where I'm at with my setting and I'm very happy with where we're at with our team, because we're doing phenomenal."
Boyes spread the ball around to six of her teammates, who had a significant height advantage over their opponents. Powell led the team with 10 kills, McKinley made eight, Jenkins added four and Azevedo had three. Perry, a freshman, made the start and added a pair of kills.
Playing with a height disadvantage is nothing new to the Williams High varsity volleyball team — their tallest player is listed at 5-foot, 6 — so the Yellowjackets rely on their gritty defense to extend rallies and keep them in games.
"(Defense is) what we've been practicing a whole lot because we don't have the height, we can't be blocking, so we have to move and dig up those balls this year. That's the only way we're going to win," Williams coach Katie Davalos said.
Ramos served a game-high five aces and Lizeth Rivera led the Yellowjackets with five kills. Garcia made three kills and served two aces, and Ibarra added three aces and a kill.
The Yellowjackets (3-5, 0-2 Mid-Valley League) have their sights set on another playoff berth after reaching the postseason last year. Williams will look to get back on track with a home game against Biggs on Tuesday before traveling to Quincy on Thursday.
"(Today) was an off day but the girls are enjoying themselves this year and having fun so that's what counts. That's our goal this year too, to get back (to the playoffs)," Davalos said.
The Panthers host Colusa on Tuesday before traveling to Biggs on Thursday.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.