By GERARDO RECINOS
A lot can change is a year. Just ask Alhambra and Acalanes’ volleyball teams.
Last season the Alhambra boys were the toast of the league. The North Coast Section champions hadn’t lost to the Dons since May 2013.
Seven straight wins later, the Bulldogs’ winning streak was broken on March 30 when the Dons beat the Bulldogs 3-0 at home.
Now the Acalanes Dons are the ones who are the toast of the town. In a peculiarly similar way to the Bulldogs renaissance, the Dons fought their way back from a two-win campaign in 2015 to finish an even 13-13 last season.
The Bulldogs made the change in 2014, with their first year under coach Peter Crowley yielding a 14-14 season. Their next season brought an NCS title.
Acalanes, currently ranked 63rd in the nation by MaxPreps.com, looks similarly dominating this season, also only two years removed from their last losing season.
As such the young Bulldogs didn’t really stand much of a chance against the first-place Dons.
Coach Crowley surely set smaller goals within the game for his team, knowing full well that the opponents were stacked with players who play volleyball year round for their club teams.
The Dons rolled through a quick first set in about 15 minutes time. They built up a big lead, but the Bulldogs had a few bright moments.
Like when Wyatt Hammer and Jake Fahy started getting their hands on some of the shots off the Acalanes hitters. Defensively the Bulldogs were never going to turn the tide of the set, but they did manage to start fighting back.
The 25-15 win by Acalanes was dominating, but their 25-9 win in their second set was something else. Early on in the set, the Dons built up a 13-4 set largely due to the brilliant play of hitters junior Cole Macarewich and sophomore Ethan Browne. Not long after the Dons extended the lead as far as 21-7 before closing out the set in very dominating fashion.
In set three, with the Dons resting their starters, the Bulldogs were able to take home a bit of pride in a hard fought set.
At one point the sophomore, Hammer, had three straight points and kills. That closed the gap to three points at the time. Morgan Wilson’s block mid-way through the set closed the gap to only a single point.
But the Dons quality shone through in the end, and a 7-2 run turned the tide of the set, and ultimately made it the third set win for the Dons.
The loss puts the Bulldogs in a position to turn things around with some less than excellent quality. With only eight games left on the schedule, the Bulldogs will look to get a few wins before the end of the season and take home a few results to work off of in next season.