The Bret Harte Bullfrogs were on the doorstep of reaching the section championship game for the second time in four years. But while they knocked on the door, it was Vacaville Christian who shoved Bret Harte to the side and walked into the building.

After collecting two impressive playoff wins, the good luck Bret Harte was having finally ran out. The Bullfrogs had their section championship dreams dashed on a night where they did not look like the same squad who cruised to six consecutive playoff set victories.

The No. 3 Vacaville Christian Falcons beat the No. 2 Bullfrogs 25-15, 25-18 and 25-16 in the semifinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs Tuesday night at Bob Bach Gym in Angels Camp.

Bullfrogs fall short of reaching section championship game

Bret Harte lost to Vacaville Christian 3-0 in the semifinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs Tuesday in Angels Camp. Senior Bullfrog Jaycee Davey does her best to keep a play alive. 

“Tonight’s loss was a hard one because it wasn’t about the physical aspects of the game,” Bret Harte head coach Jacey Porovich said following the 3-0 loss. “We lost tonight when it came to the mental game. We lacked hustle and heart, which are two things we talk about fairly often and we did not show up determined to work really hard for it. I was disappointed that I didn’t see more fight out of the girls on the court.”

For whatever reason, Bret Harte was unable to sustain any momentum throughout the match. Once the Falcons started to roll, there was seemingly nothing the Bullfrogs could do from being picked apart.

Bullfrogs fall short of reaching section championship game

Bret Harte junior Aariah Fox records a kill early in the first set. 

“It was all about our mistakes,” Bret Harte senior Cierra Gilbert said. “I think we could have kept up if we talked more and our energy was up. We would mess up and then mess up again and again. If we were able to pick it up right after we made a mistake, then it would have been better.”

The Bullfrogs began the night by taking a 4-1 lead over the Falcons with two kills from junior Aariah Fox and a serving ace from Gilbert. But once Vacaville Christian battled back and took a 7-6 lead, the Bullfrogs trailed the remainder of the set.

“Our energy was there with the first few points, but once we started to make mistakes again, everything just got worse and worse,” Gilbert said.

Bullfrogs fall short of reaching section championship game

Bret Harte senior Cierra Gilbert makes a pass against Vacaville Christian. 

Bret Harte got kills from sophomore Chase Silva and senior Trianna Jordan, but it was not enough. Vacaville Christian took the opening set 25-15.

After dropping the first set by 10, the Bullfrogs needed to come out strong to begin the second set and that didn’t happen. The Falcons quickly built a 10-4 lead and once again had Bret Harte on the ropes.

Yet for the first and only time all night, the Bullfrogs were able to put an impressive run together. Trailing by six, Bret Harte took advantage of multiple Falcon miscues and with a kill from Jordan, the Bullfrogs tied the set at 10-10. Following a Vacaville Christian timeout, the Falcons took all the momentum back by going on a 5-0 run of their own.

Bullfrogs fall short of reaching section championship game

Senior Trianna Jordan attempts a kill. 

The Bullfrogs continued to fight and stayed within a point or two. But with Vacaville Christian leading 17-16, the Falcons went on an 8-2 run to take the second set 25-18.

“I can call timeouts and give the girls that break, but at the end of it, it’s the girls on the court who are going to decide to step up and play or not,” Porovich said about trying to regroup when things weren’t going well on the court. “They have to start pulling together and we talked about that. At this point of the season, they shouldn’t be looking at me; they should be looking at each other and picking each other up and deciding to pull closer together moving forward.”

Trailing by two, the stage was set for Bret Harte to have one of the most epic comebacks in school history, or to be swept on its home court. Unfortunately for the Bullfrogs, the Falcons brought their own broom.

Bullfrogs fall short of reaching section championship game

Junior Kenna Williams finished the night with four kills. 

Bret Harte trailed from the very first point in the third set and once Vacaville Christian got a decent lead, it was only a matter of time until the 25th point was scored and Bret Harte’s chase for a blue banner was ended. The Falcons won the third set 25-16.

“I’m not sure what the mentality was going into tonight’s game,” Porovich said. “I feel that we prepared like we should have for this team and we knew who they were going to go to and when and what their strong suits were and we prepared for those. If anything, I think maybe the girls were thinking they were a team that maybe we couldn’t play with.”

Silva finished the night with five kills and seven digs; Gilbert had one ace, was 81 for 83 passing with 17 assists and had four digs; Kenna Williams had four kills; Fox had six kills, three digs and was 10 for 10 serving; sophomore Makenna Tutthill had two kills in her varsity debut; Jordan had five kills and was 7 for 7 serving; and senior Jaycee Davey was 10 for 10 serving with five digs and one assist.

Bullfrogs fall short of reaching section championship game

Trianna Jordan goes up for a kill early in the third set. 

“It’s a tough loss because I don’t feel that my girls believed in themselves and in each other as a team,” Porovich said. “At the end of the day, win or lose, my biggest hope is for them to walk out of the gym holding their heads up knowing that they gave everything they had, regardless of the scoreboard. I don’t feel like we left everything that we had on the court tonight.”

Although Bret Harte will have to wait another year to try and capture its first section championship banner, the season is not over just yet. The Bullfrogs qualified for the state championship tournament and will have to wait until Sunday to find out who they will be taking on in the opening round.

“It does suck, but I’m still ready to play more games,” Gilbert said.

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