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Dogs grab commanding win for seniors

Alhambra’s Sienna Ballot serves for the Bulldogs in their 3-1 win over the Las Lomas Knights at home on Nov. 5, 2015. Ballot is one of six seniors who played their final regular season home game in Martinez on Thursday night for Coach Willie Marchesano. (GERARDO RECINOS / Martinez Tribune)
Alhambra’s Sienna Ballot serves for the Bulldogs in their 3-1 win over the Las Lomas Knights at home on Nov. 5, 2015. Ballot is one of six seniors who played their final regular season home game in Martinez on Thursday night for Coach Willie Marchesano. (GERARDO RECINOS / Martinez Tribune)
By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

The final game of the season is always a chance for the team to honor the seniors, and allow them to enjoy their final game.

In recent memory, the varsity Bulldog volleyball team’s final game of the regular season was a day to reflect. There wasn’t much to do after that final game.

This time there is. The 3-1 win over Las Lomas on Thursday, Nov. 5, would serve as a surge of momentum before the team’s debut in this year’s North Coast Section Playoffs.

The Las Lomas Knights have had a tough season; they only won four games overall in 2015, and only managed to steal a game from Dublin on the road this season.

Even with that poor of a record, they fought the Bulldogs tooth and nail through the first two sets of their Nov. 5 match.

The Bulldogs weren’t quite at the top of their game in the early stages of the match. They lost the opening set 25-21, despite solid performances from senior Haley Jones and junior Ainise Taimani. Jones, who had seven kills in the match, collected two of them at critical times during the opening set.

Taimani, who led the team in kills this season with a whopping 147, collected 26 of them against the Knights. She collected five of them in the opening set, a number most could be proud of, but which she has bested multiple times this season.

The second set was the turn-around point for the Bulldogs. Las Lomas fought hard once more but was clearly outmatched. Senior Lexy Swenson took advantage of the Knights’ eagerness to counter the Alhambra hitters and picked her spot on the court for four kills.

Gabby Chase came off the bench and recorded two kills in the second set, while Jones picked up a pair herself, the second of which turned the set on its head and launched a 6-1 run that gave Alhambra the lead.

The lead changed six times in that whirlwind second set, but Taimani’s three straight kills at the end of the set made sure the right team had the lead in the end.

After two nail-biting sets, the Bulldog girls turned it up a notch. Sets three and four were resounding Alhambra wins, and outside of a brief spell at the start of the third set, Alhambra led throughout.

Their defensive work, which had been less than perfect in the earlier sets improved, as did their serve receiving, which was forced by a few aces from Las Lomas early on.

With the win the girls improved to 19-10 overall on the season, and they finished with a 5-7 record in Diablo Foothill Athletic League play, an unthinkable record even in the early stages of the season.

With the win the girls earned a number nine seed in the Division III NCS playoffs, where they take on Albany High School on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

This story was filed before the varsity girls volleyball team’s NCS playoff match against Albany on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. For results from that match please see Page 8.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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