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O’Dowd ends Berkeley’s NCS hopes

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday November 16, 2000

Bad passing, serving doom Yellowjackets 


The Berkeley High women’s volleyball team had its season ended abruptly Tuesday night at the hands of the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons. The Dragons swept the Yellowjackets in three straight games in the North Coast Section Playoff first-round game, 15-9, 15-5, 15-12. 

The Yellowjackets looked uncomfortable the entire match, which took place in Donahue Gymnasium on the Berkeley campus. Uncharacteristic passing errors and service faults ruined any chance the ’Jackets had of advancing in the playoffs. 

“We couldn’t execute the game plan we set up,” said Berkeley coach Justin Caraway. “We had a deer-in-the-headlights look.” 

The Yellowjackets were undefeated in the ACCAL this season, and were used to running off huge point streaks to put away opponents. But Caraway’s team couldn’t do that against a disciplined O’Dowd team, and were visibly frustrated when their spikes were dug or blocked. As their passing deteriorated, setters Caitlin Everett and Danielle Larue were unable to set up the big hitters, and the ’Jackets ended up lofting free ball after free ball to the waiting Dragons. 

What little success Berkeley had came on quick sets to middle hitters Desiree Young and Vanessa Williams.  

“We’re better in the middle, and they’re stronger on the outside. We knew that going in, but we couldn’t take enough advantage of it,” Caraway said.  

The visitors countered with the strong outside hitting of junior Nikki Esposito, who had countless kills and provided good defense on Berkeley’s outside hitters, seniors Lizzi Akana and Hannah Lawler. 

“(Esposito) has been our biggest hitter and made our big kills all year, and she did that today,” O’Dowd coach Lisa Newman said. 

Caraway praised the Dragon defense, which blocked several spikes and passed to its setters very well all match long. 

“They played good defense and they served well. I actually expected them to serve more agressively, but I guess they really didn’t need to.” 

Berkeley’s Everett was visibly upset during the second game, slamming the ball to the floor twice and drawing a yellow card from the referee. She said her main concern was the terrible passing that led to the loss. 

“If the setter doesn’t get good passes, you have no offense,” she said. “It was okay sometimes, but it wasn’t there when it had to be.” 

When asked if her team would have won the game if they had played well, Everett simply nodded and rolled her eyes. She also said some of the younger players on the team (Caraway played all three freshmen and four sophomores on the roster in the match) might not appreciate the opportunity they had. 

“I don’t think they know how lucky they are to be where they are,” she said. “Then they got nervous when they realized what a big game they were playing.”