By GERARDO RECINOS
If Tuesday’s league opener is an indicator of what the season holds for the Lady Bulldog volleyball team, we wont be seeing another long layoff between playoff appearances.
Alhambra’s Sept. 27 2-0 straight-set win in the Diablo Athletic League opener couldn’t have gone any smoother. They played against an inexperienced Ygnacio Valley team that kind of allowed them to just relax and have some fun.
Coach Willie Marchesano does a great job making sure everyone plays in closely contested matches, but against he Warriors every single player saw time on the court. Eight different players recorded kills, and the Bulldogs, lead by Rachel Thompson, collected a season-high 22 aces.
Maddie Gray, who had three aces, recorded two in the games opening moments to start up what we be a one-sided set, and ultimately, match.
Kills by juniors Gabby Chase, Erin Silva and senior Leslie Roofener opened up a 10-3 lead, while Ygnacio Valley could only record any points on errors by the Bulldogs.
The Warriors were clearly struggling, but Alhambra was cruising, and looked more like they were in training mode. It wasn’t until the Dogs had match point that Ygnacio managed to score. A tipped over return that found a spot between a pair of Bulldogs, and brought a roar of excitement from an ever-optimistic traveling section of parents.
If the first set was dominant based explicitly on the scoreline, the second was even more so because of how quickly it happened.
Blink and you would’ve missed a 13-2 run by the Bulldogs. The move was started by a Sterling Parker kill, but featured nice work from nearly every attacker from the Bulldogs. Silva, Chase, Makenzie Salva and Sasha Marshall all contributed to the cause with kills. And Thompson and Mackenzie Goulding had aces that would eventually force the Warriors to call timeout, down by a stunning 19-3.
With their foot clearly off the gas pedal, the Bulldogs managed to coast to another set win without rubbing it in. Ever the good sports, they continued to play at what one could estimate was 60 percent of what they are capable of.
Ygnacio took its first lead of the night at 15-14 when they got a pair of aces from Simona Veselinova. The two teams traded points as the Warriors threatened to extend the match to an extra set. Despite the daunting climb, Ygnacio Valley kept their heads up and took it one point at a time.
At one point the Warriors were the ones who had match point, a dangerous situation for Alhambra, because a decision by the officials would’ve forced a fourth set.
But kills from Roofener and Salva evened things up at 24-24, and then Audrey Pardini’s second kill of the night gave the Bulldogs a one-point advantage. A block at match point gave the Bulldogs the win despite trailing in the deciding set.
With the win the Bulldog girls start off their league campaign with a win. The Bulldogs will take on Berea Christian-Walnut Creek on Thursday, Sept. 29, after Tribune deadline. See the Oct. 7 edition of the Tribune for results.