It may not have been the crispest performance — particularly early on — for the Garces Rams. But it didn’t matter, either, in their first round playoff win.

Garces overcame a slow start to knock off Visalia-Central Valley Christian in the opening round of the Central Section Division I playoffs at Garces on Thursday 25-21, 25-16, 25-23.

The Rams, seeded No. 4 in D-I after winning the D-II section title last season, got off to a slow start against the No. 14-seeded Cavaliers, who proved to be a competitive opponent in the opening round.

CVC jumped out to a 14-11 lead in the first set, before Garces took over. The Rams would have just a tad too much firepower, however, with outside hitters Perri Starkey and Lailah Green; middle blockers Alyson Dees and Emily Demos; and defensive specialist Alia Lidgett from the service line.

Starkey said the team’s energy level was low coming out to the match. She added that the Rams picked it up and executed better as the night went on.

“That’s any game,” Starkey said of trying to find a rhythm coming out of the locker room. ”You’re coming from school, you’re stressed out from homework, and you go straight into the game. It’s hard to get that groove. But we got better throughout the game.”

In the second set, Garces played mistake-free, while CVC struggled with some unforced errors.

“Garces definitely made way less errors in that (set) compared to the first set, when they had a bunch of service errors,” said CVC head coach Sarah Oskam. “I don’t think we were ready to go out and earn those points.”

The final set saw CVC once again hop out to a lead, going ahead 21-18. But Garces would come back to tie the score 22-22, and would eventually take the upper hand for good.

It’s one down, three more to go for the Rams in the D-I bracket.

“We ended up pulling it together at the end,” Green pointed out following Thursday’s match. “Which matters most.”

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