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Berkeley falls to Gauchos

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Friday May 04, 2001

The Berkeley High boys’ volleyball team has had a tough year. A collection of underclassmen, some of whom never played organized volleyball before this year, the ’Jackets have yet to win a match. Thursday, ACCAL leaders El Cerrito came calling, and the outcome was fairly predictable, as the Gauchos ran off an easy 15-2, 15-12, 15-2 win. 

The match was never really in doubt, as the taller, more experienced visitors never let the ’Jackets (0-17 overall, 0-8 ACCAL) into the first game and used their second string to hold on to win the second game. With their starters back in for much of the final game, they simply overpowered Berkeley for the victory. 

“That’s pretty much what we expected,” Berkeley coach Justin Caraway said. “They’re the best team in the league, and no one comes close.” 

The Gauchos used their height advantage up front to continually spike kills, with Leland Mapp and Teddy Firestone doing most of the damage. Berkeley’s Robin Roach had five kills, the only ’Jacket with more than one. 

When El Cerrito wasn’t hitting winners, the ’Jackets usually found a way to hand them points with poor passing and errant spikes. But they managed to keep the Gauchos from huge runs, as the visitors never scored more than four points in a row before Berkeley managed a side out. 

“What we have to do is learn to string points and games together,” Caraway said. “We don’t always compete on every point like we should.” 

Roach is the only returning starter for the ’Jackets, and his teammates deferred to him constantly on Thursday, even when he was in poor position to make a play. Caraway said that while Roach is his best player, he’d like to see other players step up. 

“He’s our go-to hitter in the front row, and he sets when he’s in the back row, so it’s natural that they look to him,” he said. “But sometimes we make him work too hard, and that’s a lot of pressure for a sophomore to carry.” 

But the coach thinks the growing pains will pay off in the next two years, as his players grow both physically and tactically. Berkeley doesn’t have a JV program for them to learn slowly, and no Berkeley middle schools have volleyball teams for boys, so they’re getting on-the-job training. 

“We should be okay next year, and the year after that we should be pretty good,” he said. “We can look at some of the teams we’re losing to this year and know that we’ll beat them next year.” 

As for winning a game this year, Caraway didn’t sound too hopeful. 

“It’d be nice to win one, but we’re more concerned with whether we’re getting better as the year goes on. And we definitely are getting better.”