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High School Volleyball Playoffs: Miners Rise Up

No. 1 El Diamante defeats Mustangs in four sets

12:00 AM, Nov. 09, 2012 EST

El Diamante's Summer Warford hits over Tulare Western's Elizabeth Wilbur in a Central Section Division II playoff match on Thursday in Visalia. / Ron Holman

El Diamante volleyball coach Leslie Sorensen said her team needs to play with more consistency if it hopes to capture a Central Section championship.

The top-seeded Miners defeated No. 9 Tulare Western in four sets 25-18, 25-15, 19-25, 25-15 in Division II quarterfinals on Thursday night at the El Diamante gym.

But it wasn't the type of performance one might expect out of a team that captured the West Yosemite League title and finished the regular season with a 24-3 record.

The Miners struggled in the first set, falling in a 13-6 hole before rallying and pulling out the 25-18 victory.

They cruised in the second set and appeared to be well on their way to a Tulare Western sweep, but the Mustangs battled and forced a fourth set.

The fourth set was all El Diamante as the Miners sealed their trip to the semifinals.

"We have to find more consistency," Sorensen said. "That's the key story, consistency."

El Diamante senior Jamie Ruble admitted there might be a little added pressure on the team because of the top seed and knowing it will be playing the rest of their matches at home.

"There is pressure because we're playing in front of our green sea," Ruble said. "We don't want to disappoint them because they always show up for us. We love our green sea and we don't want to let them down."

Ruble played a solid match, helping lead the Miners to the victory as she finished with five kills and three aces.

Rachel Schafer had 13 kills, Lauren Torres had eight kills and five blocks, Bianca Pattani had 15 digs and Summer Warford added eight kills.

"We performed kind of rugged in the beginning, but we picked up uthe pace, played our game and stayed focused," Ruble said.

The Miners will need to maintain their focus when they host No. 5 Independence on Tuesday. The Falcons swept No. 4 Exeter to reach the semifinals.

"We haven't seen them play but we know they have some athletes," Sorensen said. "I expect it to be a very good match. They're in a league with all Division I schools so their record is not that good, but they're definitely a top-four team."

Tulare Western coach Danielle Griffiths knew her team was going to have its hands full against the Miners. She was well aware of El Diamante's exploits and knew it was going to be tough.

"We knew coming in against the No. 1 seed that it would be tough," Griffiths said. "We've heard about them. They're one of the top teams, we knew of their record and we knew of their height."

After falling down 2-0, she was pleased with the fight her team showed to win the third set.

"These girls never give up," Griffiths said. "I don't think they realized they hadn't been swept in a regular match all season. To have them rise up and play the way they did was great."

The Mustangs finished the season with a 17-12 record and won a share of the EYL championship.

And with only one senior on the roster, the future looks bright for Tulare Western.

"I was so excited to have this group of girls and I'm looking forward to next year," Griffiths said. "We have a lot of our studs coming back."




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