Tuesday, Nov 26 2013 06:00 AM

Giving their all in the finals; THS almost pulls off upset over El Diamante

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Tehachapi's Maddie Orellana records a dig in the CIF Finals over El Diamante last week, while Miranda Wert looks to assist. Orellana was the team leader in digs with seven on the night. Photo by Michael Duffy

Destiny Julye (far right) recorded a team-high 21 kills in the CIF Championship last Thursday evening in Visalia. The Lady Warriors nearly upset No. 1 seed El Diamante before eventually falling in five sets, 26-24, 24-26, 14-25, 26-24, 15-12. Photo by Michael Duffy

With their backs against the wall and facing the defending champion and No. 1 seed El Diamante for the CIF title, the No.2-seeded Lady Warriors knew that they would have to have a flawless match to record an upset victory.

Tehachapi (32-4) was near perfect, giving the Miners reason to doubt the possibility of back-to-back titles before falling in an epic five set match, 26-24, 24-26, 14-25, 26-24, 15-12.

The Lady Warriors came close to a first set win, with Brooklynn Cheney pummeling a pair of kills in the backcourt to tie the set at 22-22 and 24-24, respectively, before El Diamante recorded a side out and service winner for the early lead.

Mountain Volleyball found themselves in trouble in the second set, down by as much as 11-3 and facing match point at 24-19 to the defending champions. However, after coming back from two sets down in the semifinals just two days prior, the Lady Warriors had the confidence to handle the minor adversity.

Tehachapi went on to reel off seven-straight points to take the second set, 26-24, behind six service winners from Destiny Julye and a block from Elayna Cramer on set point to stun their opponent and the El Diamante home crowd.

"Our girls just have tenacity and confidence. Our team knew it would be difficult to come back two games down and they pulled together," said head coach Sheri Dees. "It was a huge shift in momentum that carried over into the third set. This team has shown over and over the ability to never give up. This is a very inspiring team."

The sting of the second set that got away carried over to the third set for the Miners. Julye dominated the front court with a barrage of kills to help the Lady Warriors to a 14-3 advantage, helping her team cruise to a 25-14 win.

Up 2-1 in the match, the monumental win was nearly complete in the fourth set when Mountain Volleyball came back from a 7-1 deficit to take a 21-18 lead. However, El Diamante came alive to go on a 8-3 run to close out the set and force a fifth game.

Tehachapi found themselves down 4-0 in the final set, coming back to as close as 7-6 before the Miners clinched their second-straight CIF title.

Julye led the team with 21 kills, four aces, five blocks and three digs, while Kim Smith had 12 kills and nine blocks. Maddie Orellana led the team with seven digs, followed by Kendall Kapitzke with six digs and four aces and Samantha Wallace with five digs, 44 assists and five blocks. Other leaders included Cramer with 10 kills and four aces and Cheney with eight blocks and five kills.

The championship appearance was the fifth for Tehachapi, having reached the CIF Finals in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Despite finishing as the CIF runner-up, the Lady Warriors did not receive an at large bid to this week's state playoffs, which were announced this past Sunday afternoon.

The state selection committee elected to award four invites to the Southern section, two to the San Diego section and just one bid each to the Los Angeles County and Central Section.

Despite the disappointment of not making the state tournament, the Lady Warriors ended the year with their head held high.

"The undying support we have received this season is truly awesome and proof that we have an amazing student body and staff, as well as an extremely supportive community who help us elevate our play. It is a wonderful thing to be part of this community," Dees said. Lady Warriors thank Amy Watkins

The THS Volleyball team would like to give a special thank you to THS Teacher/ASB class advisor Amy Watkins, who spearheaded gym decorations and spirit for the volleyball games this season. Ms. Watkins was instrumental in creating high quality inspirational posters and getting the crowd fired up during the playoffs. Thanks you Ms. Watkins, you are the best!

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