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East, Garces to meet for section D-IV volleyball title

In the first couple days of the season, East High and Garces were rolling through the South High volleyball tournament and appeared to be headed for a meeting in the championship game.

Unfortunately, both teams lost in the semifinals and the matchup never materialized.

Now, a little more than two months later, the Blades and Rams will have their chance, only this time there’s much more at stake.

No. 2 East and No. 8 Garces each rallied for five-set victories in the semifinals, advancing to Saturday’s Central Section Division IV final at Lemoore’s Golden Eagle Arena.

The Blades (25-7-1), who finished 9-0 to win the Southeast Yosemite League, lost the opening set to No. 6 Madera South (16-14), won the next two and then dropped the fourth to set up a dramatic winner-take-all final set.

Trailing 13-9, East scored five straight points thanks to the dominant serving of Isabelle Zavala, who kept the Stallions off balance with a couple of aces and a series of hits that were hard to handle that gave her team match point at 14-13. Madera South earned a sideout, but senior captain Laila Baameur did what she does best and finished the game off with a pair of kills.

Baameur finished with a game-high 37 kills and also added three aces and two blocks to help the Blades reach the first section volleyball title game in school history with a 22-25, 25-18, 25-23, 20-25, 16-14 win.

Senior setter Kaitlyn Cisneros finished with 40 assists, while teammates Arianney Barrera (five aces) and Isabela Nunez (seven kills) also made key contributions.

Garces (12-11) dug itself a 2-0 hole before roaring back to win the final three sets to advance to the title game with a 21-25, 19-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-11 win at No. 5 Morro Bay on Tuesday.

Junior Mia D’Amata had a team-high 31 kills and two blocks, and added 28 digs to help the Rams move a game over .500 for the first time in nearly a month.

Sophomore Samantha Rogers had a team-high 30 digs and added nine kills for Garces, and setter Allison Martin finished with 49 assists and 30 digs.

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