LATHROP — Lathrop High's finest season came to an end in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
The No. 8 Spartans were swept by their old Valley Oak League foe Kimball on Tuesday, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20.
"I think (the Jaguars) being from the VOL intensified the situation," said Lathrop coach Heather Anderson of the visiting No. 9-seeded team from nearby Tracy.
She noted: "We try not to focus on the opposition but rather on the game plan."
It didn't help that her team got off to a sluggish start.
The Spartans (23-5), who won the Western Athletic Conference title and hosted a postseason match for the first time, fell behind early in the opening game, 4-0.
Serving aces by Samantha Mayer and Nicole Mayer, who had a pair of aces in the opener, helped set the pace for Kimball (26-6).
But kills by the Spartans' senior standout Jahsita Fa'alil coupled with a spike and block by sophomore middle hitter Sydney Hanks rebound to tie the opener at 12-12.
Kimball's Raven Cooper scored on a pair of kills while teammates Madison Rodriguez, Raia Maamo, Samantha Mayer and junior libero Rein Bocage contributed down the stretch for the first-game win.
Lathrop had the early momentum in the second game, grabbing a 4-1 lead thanks to kills by Hanks and Fa'alil, who tallied 20 kills and 15 digs in the three games.
Game No. 2 was only warming up. Both teams managed to stay even— indicative of that were the six ties — until Jaguar senior outside hitter Rachel Van katwyk came through with a pair of blocks and two kills, in turn, providing her team with a 2-0 game lead in the best-of-five match.
Despite being down, Lathrop continued to battle in Game No. 3.
Hailey Hunter, who had a several out-of-bound saves to keep rallies alive throughout the match — “Hailey has so much heart that she'll dive through walls in practice," said Anderson of her junior libero — along with junior varsity call-up Thracylie Acoba, junior middle hitter Ke'mya Barnett, Jennifer Santillan, and Fa'alil helped keep the Spartans going that close-out game.
The Jaguars ended the game, match not to mention Lathrop's season by going on a 5-1 run.
Senior setter Santillan finished with 28 assists and 19 digs while Hunter chipped in with 18 digs and Acoba came up with seven digs.
Hanks had four kills and two blocks while Barnett finished two kills.
Anderson is hoping that her team can build on this playoff experience in moving forward.
"We'll have to play like we've been there," she said.