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Slow-starting ’Jackets roll over Pinole Valley

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Thursday September 27, 2001

When it comes to ACCAL play, the Berkeley High girls’ volleyball is a machine, chewing up opponents and spitting them out. The Yellowjackets went undefeated in league play last year, and head coach Justin Caraway is confident of repeat. 

“You’re looking at another undefeated league season,” Caraway said after his team had finished mopping the floor with Pinole Valley on Wednesday, 15-7, 15-1, 15-1. 

With 6-foot-5 USA youth team member Desiree Guilliard-Young manning the middle for the ’Jackets, no team in the league can match them at the net. And though Caraway lost four key members of last year’s squad to graduation, he has simply reloaded with a new set of talented players. 

Outside hitters Vanessa Williams and Amalia Jarvis are the keys to Berkeley’s post-season hopes. If they can maintain a threat on the outside and keep teams from keying on Guilliard-Young, things should go smoothly for Caraway’s team. The two combined for 10 kills against the Spartans and impressed their coach. 

“We had an outstanding game from all of our outside hitters, which we can do when we pass well,” Caraway said. “If we have a good passing day, we can get the ball to Desiree in the middle early, then get our swings on the outside later.” 

The ’Jackets started slowly against Pinole Valley, perhaps feeling some malaise from their lackluster effort against Richmond on Tuesday. Several Berkeley errors handed points to the much smaller Spartans, who held a lead of 7-6 before the ’Jackets got on track. With Nadia Qabazard serving, Berkeley ran off nine straight points to take the first game. 

“There’s no way (Pinole Valley) should get seven points on us,” Caraway said. “We didn’t pass particularly well, and we didn’t adjust to their different servers.” 

It was all ’Jackets from there on out. The Spartans struggled just to set up their hitters, and when they did, the ball usually was stuffed right back at them as Guilliard-Young and Williams combined for four blocks. Williams also had three kills in the final game, and Jarvis finished off the Spartans with the final two kills. 

Caraway doesn’t expect much competition in league play, with the exception of Encinal. With last year’s league MVP in Jackie Randolph, Caraway points the Jets out as the only team that could threaten his team’s dominance.  

Last year, Berkeley blew through the regular season, but was stopped in the first round by Bishop O’Dowd. Caraway hopes to toughen his team for post-season play this year by playing in several top-level tournaments, including the Bishop Montgomery/Piner event this weekend in Santa Rosa. 

“We have to play good teams to get ready to face tough teams in the playoffs,” Caraway said.