By GERARDO RECINOS
The Lady Bulldog volleyball team dropped a real heartbreaker at home to Dublin on Tuesday night, ultimately losing in a tiebreaker fifth set after taking a 2-1 lead.
Four of the five sets played on Tuesday night in the Alhambra gym were only decided by two points in the tightest match up the Bulldogs have had this season.
The Bulldogs took the third set in a resounding 25-12 win, but that was an out-lier to what was a tense match that had the gym on the edge of their seat for almost two hours.
So far this season, the Bulldogs are 2-2 in games decided by a tiebreaker, with wins over Freedom-Oakley and San Rafael (in three games in Concord Varsity Tournament) and losses to Dublin on Tuesday and to Benicia (also in Concord Tournament).
In the first set of their second Diablo Foothill Athletic League match up, the Bulldogs started off hot, with sophomore Sophia Olson leading the team with five kills and an ace. The hot start gave the Bulldogs a 20-12 lead and forced Dublin to take their second time out to regroup.
To tie it up the Gaels would have needed to make up an eight-point deficit.
They did. Dublin junior Hailey Bruce lead the Gaels from the timeout with an authoritative kill. Her effort kicked off a series of errors by Alhambra that let Dublin back into the game. Thankfully for the Bulldogs they only needed five points to escape with the win. Alhambra was saved by junior Ainise Taimani, who had three kills in the opening set.
In the second set, the Bulldogs did to Dublin what the Gaels had just done to them. Dublin lead the entire second set, due especially to the accuracy of their hitters. Sophomore Breyan Ashley in particular did well picking out spots on the court.
A block by senior Haley Jones tied it up for Alhambra at 24-24, but Ashley came through for Dublin again to take a brief lead. The two teams traded points until Ashley’s ace and an Alhambra mistake let the Gaels off the hook.
In the third set it looked like Alhambra would finish the Gaels off quickly from that point on. Senior Lexy Swenson started the set off with an ace on a serve that knuckled in between two players who couldn’t have been standing more than five feet apart. The ball looked like it rolled off a table the way it dipped so suddenly.
That started the move that lead to an Alhambra lead of 12-9 before Dublin called timeout to stem the bleeding.
From that point on the Bulldogs reeled off a 13-3 run capped off by another ace by Swenson, and a kill by senior Lexi Hammer.
In the fourth set the two teams were evenly matched to a tee. The biggest lead was established by Dublin early on when they took an 8-3 advantage, but from that point on no team lead by more than three points for the rest of the set.
Alhambra’s three-point lead late on crumbled after a Dublin timeout, and junior middle hitter Ashley Hedt broke out for Dublin and reeled off consecutive kills to give the Gaels their first lead in the set since Alhambra went up 10-9.
Alhambra were betrayed by a non-call by the officials on what looked like a clear lift by Dublin. The lift wasn’t called an the Bulldogs lost the set.
In the fifth set, once again the Bulldogs were caught up by Dublin after opening up a 12-5 lead.
Dublin went up to score ten of the next 13 points to knot it up at 15-15. Dublin took the lead, and then the match on a kill by their sophomore, Ashley, and then an ace right after.
With the gut-check loss, the Bulldog girls fall to 14-5 on the season, and 0-2 in DFAL play. The girls locked up against Dougherty Valley on Thursday, Oct. 1, after Tribune deadline.