Gavilan volleyball: Rams gritty in victory

Gavilan College libero Raelynn Heredia, seen here making a pass in a Aug. 19 practice, was one of the team's top performers in a four-game win over Skyline on Wednesday.

The reserves on the Gavilan College women’s volleyball team never sat down during Wednesday’s Coast Conference South Division opener against Skyline College.
It was only fitting: The Rams stood tall in a gritty 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17 win over the visitors from San Bruno. Gavilan (8-8 overall, 1-0 Coast South) managed to win Game 4 despite putting itself in a 7-1 hole.
“We started hitting some spots and getting into rhythm,” Rams coach Kevin Kramer said. “We were able to fight back and rally, and that showed something.
When Gavilan took a 16-15 lead in Game 4—its first lead of the set—Kramer jumped as high as he could and screamed in exhortation. The Rams never relinquished the lead, closing the match on a 9-2 run to win going away.
Gavilan had a similar slow start in Game 2, falling behind 7-0. However, the Rams came all the way back to tie things at 23-23 before the Trojans (10-7, 0-1) took the game by winning the final two points.
Even though the Rams fell short in Game 2, their ability to rally proved to be a benefit as the match wore on. Although Skyline was a capable opponent, Gavilan dictated play when it passed well.
When it didn’t pass effectively, it was vulnerable to a big run. But once the Rams got their passing and communication in order, they took control.
“We started talking more and that’s when it clicked (in Game 4),” Gavilan libero Raelynn Heredia said. “Our passes started getting better, and that got our momentum going and confidence up. When we’re on, we’re really good.”
The Rams received strong attacks from outside hitters Savanna Hartman and Samantha Nydam, and textbook passing from Heredia, who produced a number of spectacular digs.
Game 1 was by far the most compelling of the four, as it featured nine ties and 10 lead changes in the first part of the set. With the game tied at 11, Gavilan went on a 7-2 run to seize control, capped by a Hartman block.
After dropping Game 2, the Rams answered with a victory in Games 3 and 4. Gavilan, the two-time defending Coast Conference South Division champions, faces a tall order for a three-peat.
Foothill College-Los Altos Hills is already 2-0 in conference and swept Gavilan in a non-conference matchup earlier in the season. But if Kramer has his way, the Rams will peak toward the end of the regular season, making them a dangerous opponent in the playoffs.
“Hopefully we’re the team in the playoffs that nobody wants to play,” the eighth-year Gavilan coach said.
Since Kramer took over the program eight years ago, Gavilan has flourished on and off the court, winning multiple conference titles while transferring dozens of players to four-year schools.
It’s the latter where Kramer feels most proud of because ultimately it’s the relationships he builds with his players that last over time.
“The wins and losses, no one is going to remember that years from now,” said Kramer, who coached Canada College in Redwood City for two years before taking the reins at Gavilan. “The best comment I ever received came from a former player who said, ‘Gavilan was the best experience.’ To this day, I still talk to some of my former players from Canada. Relationships last a lot longer than any type of record.”

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