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BHS cruises to victory over hapless Spartans

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Friday October 27, 2000

The Berkeley High girls’ volleyball team gave up just four points in three games against the Pinole Valley Spartans. They haven’t lost a match in league play. So they must be playing very well, right? Wrong, according to their coach. 

“We’ve pretty much underachieved this season,” Justin Caraway said after the dominating victory by his Yellowjackets team. 

Considering a season in which the ’Jackets are undefeated in ACCAL league play would be considered harsh for most teams. But Caraway has come to expect easy victories in the new league, and he isn’t happy with just winning the league. He scheduled four tournaments for this year, and with three gone, Berkeley has yet to win one. 

Caraway’s team spent last weekend at the Moreau Tournament, where they lost two matches and finished tied for seventh. They will travel to the Acalanes Tournament this weekend, and the coach expects better results. 

“We haven’t come prepared to play in the tournaments,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s because we haven’t had tough games in league play, but we need to get better.” 

One problem has been the absence of star player Desiree Young, who has been unavailable for several weeks due to injury. Caraway said he expects Young to return this weekend. 

“It takes a huge part of our game away,” Caraway said of missing his 6-5 hitter. “She’s about one-third of our offense, and she blocks five or six balls every game. Her presence on the court alone gets us two or three points a game.” 

In addition to the upcoming tournament, Caraway pointed to upcoming ACCAL matches against Encinal and Alameda as good tests for his team. 

“Alameda took a game from us earlier this year, so those matches should be a bit tougher,” he said. 

Thursday’s match against Pinole Valley was never really competitive. The Spartans managed just two side-outs as the Yellowjackets jumped out to a 14-0 lead before giving up their first point. The game ended 15-1 on the strength of four kills by outside hitter Lizzi Akana and two by middle hitter/setter Caitlin Everett, and it was evident the visiting Spartans, who haven’t won a match all year, were in for a long afternoon. 

“We bring three solid hitters into every match, and most teams aren’t ready for that,” Caraway said. 

Akana showed her versatility in the second game, as she tallied two kills, one block and six service points. The Yellowjackets made several errors in the match, seeming to lose intensity. But despite going into a 2-0 hole to begin the game, Berkeley wouldn’t give up another point before scoring 24 straight, spanning the rest of the second game and giving them a 9-0 lead in the third. The final game of the match was highlighted by nine service aces by the Yellowjackets, including four by freshman Nadia Qabazard and two each by Ilana Barr and Akana. 

“We knew we would win the match, but we didn’t think it would be that easy,” Caraway said. 

Akana finished the match with seven kills and one block, while Everett chipped in with three kills and nine assists in her hybrid role. With Young out, Everett has been playing as a hitter, away from her natural position of setter. Caraway praised Everett for her versatility. 

“She gives us a good match from two different positions, which is always useful,” he said. 

Still, with Northern California Sectional playoffs looming on the horizon, Caraway knows his team will have to bring its best game every time. 

“The playoffs are going to be really tough,” he said. “You can’t win in NCS without playing your best.”