Ramona High School’s girls volleyball team earned the No. 2 seed in the CIF Division II volleyball playoffs.
The Bulldogs will open post-season play tonight against Helix High School. The match will begin at 7.
A Bulldog win against the Highlanders will give Ramona a quarterfinal home match Saturday evening, which would be a 5 start, and a quarterfinal win would give the Bulldogs a home match Nov. 18 in the semifinal round.
Ramona ended the regular season with a 20-9 overall record. That mark does not count seven matches in the Palm Desert Tournament, which did not consist of regulation-length matches. Ramona won five matches, lost one and split one during the tournament.
Ramona’s 8-4 record in Valley League competition placed the Bulldogs third in the conference standings. Valley Center won the league title with a 12-0 Valley League mark while Westview had a 9-3 record.
Valley Center also defeated Ramona in the championship match of the Southern California Invitational tournament Oct. 24. The two teams played their second Valley League contest Oct. 29 at Valley Center, and the Jaguars took a 25-21, 25-16, 25-20 victory.
“It was one of the very rare times in the season that our team has been taken advantage of,” said Ramona Coach Connie Halfaker.“They (Valley Center) had to work hard, but we were off our game defensively, we were off our game offensively.”
Ramona honored seniors Jaycee Arthur, Allie Ferguson, Morgan Gross, Bailey Kotas, Kayla Lawlor, and Hillary Roloff prior to the Bulldogs’ Nov. 3 home match against Westview, but the subsequent games were more important than the ceremony.
“We had to get straight down to business,” Halfaker said.
Ramona took a 25-22 victory in the first game.
“We started out kind of slow in game one,” Halfaker said. “It was difficult to kind of get a rhythm.”
Westview led in the first game before the Bulldogs tied the score at 21 points apiece.
“They just kind of used off-speed things which kept us off guard,” Halfaker said.
The Wolverines won the second game by a 25-15 score.
“Every single thing they did went well,” Halfaker said.
Ramona won the next two games, each by a 25-23 score, to win the match in four games.
“We were starting to pick up their off-speed things,” Halfaker said.
“We never really hit our stride,” Halfaker said. “We were still able to maintain our game plan, and our defense was effective enough.”
Halfaker noted that Ramona’s players retained their composure after Westview’s back row players produced digs from balls which were expected to hit the floor.
“That was a major part of the success,” she said.
Ramona’s regular season ended Nov. 5 at Oceanside. “The girls were really fired up. We didn’t take them lightly,” Halfaker said. “We hit our stride pretty much right away.”
Ramona took 25-19, 25-14, and 25-23 wins in the sweep over the Pirates.
“They were focused, had an opportunity to just click,” Halfaker said.
The third game included considerable substitution. “Everybody was able to enjoy part of the game competition,” Halfaker said. “It was a real fun way to end our season.”
Halfaker and the players hope that the season actually ends in the state tournament, which invites the two section finalists in each division.
Ramona has reached the state tournament once, in 2006 after losing to Westview in the CIF Division II finals. The 2006 Ramona team had a 19-10 regular-season record.
In 2008 Ramona had a 10-18 regular-season record, including a 5-7 Valley League mark. The 2007 regular season, which included a different Valley League alignment along with matches canceled due to the October fires, saw Ramona compile a 12-10 overall record and an 8-2 league mark.
“They are such a well-rounded group,” Halfaker said of this year’s team. “Our team has every aspect we need. There’s just a wholeness to our group that has been the core of our success.”