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Braves battle back, topple Trojans
It would have been hard to find a more exciting place to be than inside the Hamilton High school gym on Thursday, watching the Braves duke it out with the fourth-seeded Durham Trojans (17-9).
After losing the first two games, the home team gave it their all and bested the visitors 22-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-10, grabbing a spot in the Northern Section Division V Championship game versus Los Molinos today in Red Bluff.
"I'm so proud of them for not giving up, and coming back from two games down," praised Hamilton coach Erin Johnson, adding, "They played a great game tonight, and dug up everything. They fought and proved to me how much they wanted it."
After falling in the first two games to the heavy hitting and impeccable offense of the Trojans, the Braves apparently decided they'd had enough, and during Game 3 turned it on, in an all-out, do-or-die effort.
Hamilton began answering the hits coming from the Durham side and forcing errors, as they began to use their own offensive prowess and communication to get needed points. Audra Jones spearheaded the effort when she threw down a kill off a perfectly set ball from Cassie Ponke, putting the score at 14-14. Ponke led the Braves with 27 assists for the evening.
The Braves put it into overdrive and sealed the deal shortly after, when Jones nailed three more kills to the floor, followed by Erica Mercado, who tattooed the visitors with three kills as well, as the Braves ripped the third game from the clutches of the Trojans.
Jones ended the night totaling 27 kills, while Mercado tallied nine.
With momentum on their side the Braves continued forward into the fourth game, aided by the vocal and animated home crowd. After Hamilton took the early lead, Durham appeared to be brewing a comeback of their own, aided by kills from Summer Vercruyssen and Ashley Job.
But a few kills weren't enough and with the Trojans unable to resurrect the near-perfect serving game they had presented in the first two games, the visitors were exposed, giving the Braves the perfect opportunity to continue on.
As the fourth game progressed, a wall-like block from Jones left the visitors stunned and the Braves snagged the much-needed fourth game.
Hamilton's Sophia Oseguera started the fifth and final game off on the right foot for the Braves when she sent in the first kill from the outside, and then aced the Trojans moments later on a deep serve into the back row, helping put the home team up 4-2.
Things only improved for the Braves, as they refused to give into the pressure from the Trojans, who racked up three kills and narrowed the Hamilton lead to 13-9.
After a hit from Trojan Katie Peterson was given a supreme denial from Raegan Avrit at the net, and Ponke sent in another kill, the Braves were only two points away from a huge "W."
Despite a last-ditch effort from Durham, the Braves cashed in on their victory in style, when Oseguera dropped another kill from the left side, followed by the game-winner from Jones, who hammered the ball into center court sealing the amazing comeback win.
CONTACT Emily Saint-Evens at 824-7990 or email@example.com.