By GERARDO RECINOS
For the first time in the program’s history the Alhambra volleyball team won a league title.
Not a share of the title, either. The whole thing. It’s theirs and only theirs. Alhambra’s girls’ victory over Concord High on Oct. 27 assured that the Lady Bulldogs finished their season in league play with only a single loss, and that feat earned them a number four seed in the North Coast Section playoffs.
But more on that later.
Willie Marchesano’s team dominated their way to yet another Diablo Athletic League win before finishing out their season with a 2-2 showing in the San Ramon Valley Tournament.
The 18-9 mark is better than last year’s 19-11 finish, which was good enough to qualify the Bulldogs’ for their first playoff appearance in quite some time.
With wins like their league finale at Concord it’s easy to see why.
In volleyball, play can be very formulaic. It starts with the likes of Sophia Olson, who had 26 digs on the night, and usually goes to Maddie Gray from there. The senior setter had 28 assists, and can go to any of Alhambra’s talented hitters. Sterling Parker (15 kills on the night) Gabby Chase (10 kills on the night) or Mackenzie Salva (seven kills on the night).
But not only do the aforementioned players contribute, but so does every player on the bench for Marchesano.
The team looked so well-rounded in DAL play, but with one of the lowest strength of schedule coefficients in the league, results against better teams will hold more weight.
Still, when the Bulldogs had opponents like the Minutemen, they didn’t get caught up thinking they would win. Despite only being up two points late in the opening set, the Bulldogs regrouped after a timeout late on, won with kills from Chase and Parker, and an ace from Gray.
Not much was altered going into set two, but an enormous effort from Chase started things off smoothly. The junior had four aces in a row to start the set off for Alhambra, and that lead would hold throughout as Concord struggled with hitters like Leslie Roofener and Erin Silva coming at them from all angles to compliment the aforementioned key players.
The Bulldogs rolled their set two win into a big lead in the early stages of set three. Consecutive kills from Chase and Parker opened up a 6-1 lead, and a 7-1 run capped off by a Mackenzie Goulding ace forced Concord to call timeout.
By then, it was much too late.
Concord couldn’t overcome the lead, the same way Clayton Valley couldn’t two days earlier, and the result gave the Bulldogs the title.
With the win and automatic berth into the North Coast Section finals, the Bulldogs earned the right to host as many as two playoff home games, the first coming against Analy-Sebastapol, and a second dependent of the results off that match (after Tribune deadline).