The Lady Bulldog volleyball team was down 2-0 in their hotly-contested match against Northgate before they came all the way back to win 3-2 on Thursday evening.
Volleyball is unique in many respects but one way that sometimes get lost in translation is scoring. You can be down 2-0, like Alhambra was, but the two teams were very evenly matched.
Only one of the sets in the Sept. 22 clash was decided by more than three points (Northgate won the first set 25-17).
The rest of the action on the night was nail-biter type stuff. The Broncos took the second set despite some contentious decisions made by the officials. Coach Willie Marchesano was clearly unhappy with the calls, but he continue to spout the same mantra to his girls: ‘play through the bad calls.’
Play through them was an understatement.
Northgate had a head full of steam going into the third set, but it was hard to see who could come out of it as the winner. There were 11 lead changes in the set, but the final one swung in favor of Alhambra.
Northgate had control of the set and opened up a dangerous 20-18 lead when Madison Flynn’s ace landed between two Bulldogs. But Sterling Parker’s block gave the Bulldogs hope and a 20-22 tie. Then the Broncos collapsed. They were called for a double hit, then made a pair of unforced errors to force another set.
In the fourth set, there was a lot less drama. Parker opened it up with three of her 17 kills on the night, and Rachel Gray and Mackenzie Goulding each had an ace to spark a small lead. Gray and Goulding each had three aces on the night.
After a Northgate timeout the Bulldogs continued to roll on during Goulding’s serve run. Makenzie Salva had a kill, to keep the 6-0 run alive.
Northgate managed to find a way to take a brief lead in the set despite trailing by as much as seven points. They had a 5-0 run capped off by an ace from Amanda Ward that forced Alhambra to take a timeout.
The Bulldogs rallied in a tense moment to retake their lead with kills from Salva and Sasha Marshall. Marshall’s second kill of the set rode the rail before falling off the table and landing right in front of two Broncos players.
In the tiebreaker set, Northgate looked strong and opened up a lead. A huge block by Marlena Ramanis put the Broncos up 4-1, and things were starting to look bleak. The Broncos looked calculated as they kept up their lead, but the Bulldogs managed to crawl back into the action.
At 6-5 in favor of Northgate, the turning point came. The Bulldogs unleashed an onslaught of clinical hitting. First Parker, but her shot was returned directly back to Alhambra. Then Salva took a shot, but her thunderous strike was directly returned as well. Junior Gabby Chase was the one who finally put the point away, and it drew a huge cheer from the Bulldog section.
Northgate took the lead back immediately thereafter, and for a second there may have been flashes of the loss to San Ramon Valley on Sept. 1.
The Bulldogs fell apart that day in the fifth set after having a commanding lead. But that wasn’t going to happen again. Not that Northgate was going to lay down and let it happen.
They got three straight kills from out of nothing from their outside hitter, but the Bulldogs got a strong response from their hitter.
Parker had consecutive kills to take the lead back, but Ramanis had an important kill to set up watchpoint for Northgate at 14-13.
Parker had a huge block to even things back up, and then Rachel Thompson pulled out a great serve for her third ace of the night (she was the third Bulldog to have three aces on the night).
At that point it was clear what was going to happen. Chase’s pass, Maddie Gray’s 29th assist and Parker’s 17th kill got the Bulldogs their seventh win.