By GERARDO RECINOS
It wasn’t until the last week of October that the Bulldog volleyball team had gotten their second league win last year. This season, they did it in September.
Alhambra’s varsity Lady Dog volleyball team maintained their perfect record in Diablo Athletic League play through two games by beating Berean Christian-Walnut Creek in straight sets on Sept. 29.
For the second match in a row the Bulldogs have made it look incredibly easy so far in their new league, and that early dominance coupled with wins before league play have them rolling. Wins against Northgate, Big Valley Christian and a non-league clash with Clayton Valley Charter-Concord leave the Bulldogs as winners of five of their last six.
That run has Willie Marchesano’s side in the drivers seat when it comes to the playoffs.
It seems presumptuous to even mention the playoffs a whole month before they’re even set to start, but that’s the track the Bulldogs are on.
Their opponents in Walnut Creek on Thursday afternoon had a few bright moments but it was clear they were the second-best side. Even in the opening set when Berean had the support of the crowd and a strong showing.
The Eagles solid players at the net kept them in the lead, but that lead was built on mostly through some errors by the Bulldogs.
Consecutive kills by senior Hannah Pilgrim and junior Elizabeth Dudziak forced Alhambra to take time out down 17-13. Things looked bleak, but down 20-16 the Bulldogs reeled off a 6-0 run.
A nice block by Audrey Pardini kept the Bulldogs alive for a kill by Makenzie Salva, and a back row kill by Erin Silva evened things up at 20-20.
The Bulldogs kept rolling and made it a 9-1 run, capped off with a kill by Leslie Roofener for the win.
After a tight set, the Eagles seemed deflated that they coughed up their best opportunity for a win. Alhambra jumped out to a 6-0 run that saw them outscored Berea 16-2 across the end of set one, and beginning of set two. That run was started with Maddie Gray serving, and collecting two of her six aces on the night.
Berean was able to fight back and at the very least make the set more competitive, but the Bulldogs were able to coast on the back of their serving and defense.
The trio of Sophia Olson, Silva, and Salva combined for 37 digs on the evening, with Olson leading the way with 17. She’s racked up a team-high 234 digs on the season.
In the third set Berean took another early lead, but that was overturned with yet another brilliant serving run by Gray.
She had help from a pair of blocks by junior Gabby Chase and sophomore Sterling Parker, but her fifth and sixth ace sparked the 9-0 run.
That run was what put the match out of reach for the Eagles. Salva’s fifth and sixth kills sealed the deal and handed the Bulldogs their ninth win of the season, and second in league play.
*For results from the Bulldogs’ match against Mt, Diablo, see page eight. The Bulldogs played Clayton Valley at home on Thursday, Oct. 6, after Tribune deadline.