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Marin Catholic ousts Lady Bulldogs 3-0 in NCS semi-final loss

By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

If you watched Alhambra’s girls volleyball team on Wednesday night, any calls regarding an open volleyball section playoff can be directed to North Coast Section commissioner Gil Lemmon.

The Lady Bulldogs were beaten in straight sets on Nov. 9 by Marin Catholic, the Marin County Athletic League champions. It was clear why the Wildcats were awarded the number one seed from the time they walked into the gym.

Four of the 12 girls on the team tower over six-foot tall, while Alhambra has only sophomore Sterling Parker that can say the same.

In volleyball games are not won and loss solely based on height, but the Wildcats do so much so well.

Take their stunning 25-6 first set win. That margin of victory was only topped a single time this season, on Oct. 14, when Marin Catholic beat San Marin 25-5 in the opening set of their match.

San Marin is the same side that took the Bulldogs to the brink of elimination less than a week ago. They came in eighth place in the MCAL.

Frighteningly enough, the Wildcats only have three seniors on the squad, with a whole host of juniors and sophomores doing the damage.

Junior Riley Ramsey had eight kills in the opening set alone. That alone would have been a solid contribution but the class of 2018 University of the Pacific commit also recorded an ace and a block in the big win.

And she did that without UC Berkeley commit Isabella Bergmark even on the court.

The well-traveled Alhambra crowd did however acknowledge the effort their girls were giving despite the overwhelming circumstances. When the Bulldogs took a lead, albeit a brief one, in the opening minutes of the second set, the Alhambra parents went off.

It was clear the North Coast Section dream would end in the semi-finals, but every dig of a certain kill was greeted with screeches of delight, especially from Sophia Olson.

The junior libero was tasked with a job akin to guarding Michael Jordan. She was helped in shifts by defensive specialist Mackenzie Goulding, and hitters Makenzie Salva and Erin Silva.

Despite the increasingly difficult task, the trio hung in there and allowed the Bulldogs to get some looks in the following two sets.

Set two saw a small improvement in the scoreline, as hitters for the Bulldogs were finding better looks off passes from Maddie Gray. After only two kills from Silva and one from Parker in the first set, Alhambra made a slight jump. They recorded five kills in the second set, with two coming from Parker, and one each from senior Leslie Roofener, and juniors Gabby Chase and Silva.

But even with that effort the Wildcats reeled off a 6-0 run to finish off the set thanks to a pair of kills each from junior outside hitter Ry Goodwin and senior middle Grace Trocki.

Another slight improvement in the third set only meant that more of the Alhambra girls would get a chance at some extended minutes on the court, but the continued resilience did return positive results, at least in the stat column.

Chase and Parker in particular collected some extra kills, and Goulding reeled off consecutive aces before proceedings concluded.

Despite the loss, the girls have qualified for the regional championship, according to coach Willie Marchesano, another first for the program.

Brackets for the tournament will be released after a re-seeding on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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