By GERARDO RECINOS
On Thursday night Willie Marchesano honored his eight seniors in quite possibly the best way: he allowed the underclassmen to take a break and allowed the seniors to play the whole game in front of their friends and family.
As far as coaches go, Marchesano has always been good at finding a way to include every girl on his team in the rotation for playing time. But his distinct talent at handing the less competitive part of the job.
In the Bulldogs 3-0 win over on Oct. 20, Mt. Diablo the coach knew he’d have some flexibility to honor his players, as well as rest the squad who would be preparing for a Tuesday clash with Clayton Valley Charter. That match has turned into a de-facto title game because both teams will enter the clash at 7-1 in Diablo Athletic League play.
The eight seniors, Leslie Roofener, Makenzie Salva, Mackenzie Goulding, Audrey Pardini, Rachel Thompson, Maddie Gray, Sasha Marshall and Karissa Wiebalk (who was on injured reserved due to a basketball injury) have all been with the program through worse times.
Once upon a time it was the Bulldogs who were in the role of the Red Devils of Mt. Diablo. They cheered when they executed a kill with a few good passes. But now they’re the ones at the top looking down.
It wasn’t all sparkling play the whole match, but every girl got an opportunity to pad there stats a bit. After a brief moment when the Bulldogs and Red Devils were only separated by a single point, it was Gray, the setter, who leaped for a kill, to much applause for the 5 foot 5 senior. Gray had five kills on the night, a unique number for her. She also collected 17 assists.
And Leslie Roofener, who has been on varsity since she was a sophomore, had 10 kills on the night, a season high for her, but in the first set she had three aces. Roofener had six aces on the night.
Not to be outdone, Salva had three aces in a row in the first set. The captain had a stunning 13 aces on the night.
In the second set, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-4 lead with Salva setting the pace with four aces in her first few serves of the set. Alhambra sputtered a bit, because they were having a bit more fun with the match than taking it too seriously. Marchesano allowed girls to play out of position and try new things, so there were some kinks to work out, but they had fun doing it.
In an effort to dry and outdo their 25-12 win in the second set, the girls came out and blasted their way to a 15-2 lead, which was started by a trio of aces from Gray and Salva each. Pardini’s ace forced Mt. Diablo to call a much-needed timeout, but that didn’t slow the Dogs.
Gray was able to collect one last kill before setting up match point, which was appropriately won with an ace by Salva, to close out the season at home with such vigor that it would seem impossible that they wouldn’t host a playoff game.