HILMAR — Every night was a coin toss for this season’s Patterson High volleyball team.
Either Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde would show up at the Tigers’ matches, but they never knew which. This unpredictability ultimately cost Patterson a shot at contending for a playoff spot this year.
Still, Patterson looked to end its long season with some promise for a better future. Although the Tigers dropped their Western Athletic Conference finale at Hilmar, 25-11, 25-20, 25-6, on Monday, Patterson coach Jennifer Hamm remained positive.
“We ended the season strong, winning two of our last three matches,” Hamm said. “Our record doesn’t speak much, but we had a good season, and the girls have really improved.”
It was a culmination of a year of heartbreaking losses and not enough victories for the Tigers (3-16, 2-11 WAC).
“We understand the game a little bit more,” Hamm said. “Hopefully we can build this program up to be a little bit stronger.”
In Monday’s first game, Patterson jumped out to a 2-0 lead. But the Tigers couldn’t fight off a challenge by the Yellowjackets (28-5, 15-0), who battled back to tie the game and eventually take the lead, 3-2. That was as close as Patterson would get, as Hilmar outscored the Tigers 11-2 down the stretch to take the game 25-11.
Patterson again took an early advantage against the Yellowjackets in the second game. But again Hilmar responded, rallying to tie the game at 6-6.
The teams traded points back and forth, and eventually the score was tied again at 18-18. But despite the best efforts of the Tigers, the experience of Hilmar inevitably shone through, and the Yellowjackets went on to win the close game, 25-20.
“We really wanted to try and give Hilmar a run for their money today, and I think that we did that at times,” Hamm said. “Hopefully the girls that we have coming back will work in the offseason and come back strong next year.”
In the third game, the Yellowjackets dialed it up a notch, showing why they are tops in the WAC by leaping out to a 10-0 lead. Patterson struggled to match Hilmar’s intensity, falling 25-6.
Chelsea Taylor led the Tigers with 14 digs and three kills. Dani Hansen added two aces and three kills. Jayme Hansen also had three kills, and Ashley Metzger contributed 10 assists.
Hamm is optimistic that better times are ahead for her team.
“We don’t really look at volleyball as a dominant sport at our school,” Hamm said. “We want to try and build a tradition and a winning team.”