DAVIS — Down two games to one and trailing in the fourth game to Vista del Lago, the Union Mine High volleyball team’s hopes of winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title were quickly fading away Thursday night.
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But with determination, spirit and desire, the Lady Diamondbacks, who at one point were down 16-10, mounted a ferocious comeback. And with tremendous tenacity at the net Jacqueline Swarbrick made two critical blocks and a timely kill to give the Diamondbacks a 24-22 advantage and at match point, they were on the brink of forcing a fifth game.
With Lea Howton’s swerving, diving, dipping serve over the net, the ball looked destined to land untouched for the win, but the Eagles didn’t oblige, going down for a game-saving dig and eventually winning the point. Vista knotted the game at 24 on a Union Mine serve-receive error, and after the sides exchanged points the Eagles got the upper hand at 27-26 and won the next point for the set and the match.
The Diamondbacks went down to defeat at the hands of the Eagles in four games, 25-19, 21-25, 22-25 and 26-28.
Looking forward to avenging a loss — only the second of the year — at the end of the regular season that cost Union Mine the Sierra Valley Conference title outright, the Diamondbacks were ready to take on Vista Del Lago for the D-III championship. The Eagles were also ready and neither team could gain an edge through most of the first game. The squads both made good passes and hit thunderous kills until the scoreboard read 15-15.
At that point the D’backs rallied and after Logan Savidge set Mikayla Tucker for a pair of kills, Union Mine had momentum and a 21-17 advantage. With a win just four points away, the D’backs maintained their composure as Malia Gonzales, Howton and Maddy Berridge pinpointed passes to Savidge and allow Kaity Kime and Tucker chances to swing away and find the empty places on the floor.
Both squads knew the second game was crucial and played with intensity and a sense of urgency. But with the score tied at 18, Union Mine miscues haunted the D’backs and Vista took control at 23-20 and went on to even the match at one game apiece.
Union Mine regrouped in the third game, raced out to a 16-8 lead and appeared ready to take a 2-1 advantage in the match. But it was not to be. The Eagles chipped away and Union Mine couldn’t stop them, eventually losing and setting up the epic battle in game four.
“We know we can win but sometimes we let up. Our team knows that’s something we just can’t do,” Howton said. “Tonight we had chances and unfortunately we let them get away. The match was disappointing but we’ve accomplished a lot and hopefully we can get another shot at Vista.”
The Diamondbacks are not finished competing yet but the road gets rockier. The runner-up in each division advances to the CIF Northern California Championship tournament which starts Tuesday.