Coming off of their toughest league match of the season, the Berkeley Yellowjackets resumed their demolishing of the ACCAL with a 15-6, 15-12, 15-3 win over El Cerrito.
After winning a tense, five-game match against Encinal on Tuesday, Thursday’s game was a reminder of just how dominant the ’Jackets can be. They completely dominated the net, even when star middle blocker Desiree Guilliard-Young was in the back row. Opposite hitter Amalia Jarvis led the team with six kills, Guilliard-Young had five kills and fellow middle blocker Vanessa Williams had three to go with two blocks and three aces.
A pleasant surprise for the ’Jackets (6-0 ACCAL) was the play of backup setter Emily Friedman. The senior had been lobbying for more playing time at other positions, and Berkeley head coach Justin Caraway finally gave in and let her play defensive specialist on Thursday against the Gauchos (4-2 ACCAL). Friedman answered the call with 10 digs and eight assists, splitting time between the two positions.
“Emily did a really good job of stepping into a new position,” Caraway said. “She showed she can play in different spots.”
Berkeley came roaring out of the gate for the first game, recording nine kills, nine digs and three aces to take a quick lead. They also dominated the third and final game of the match, with Guilliard-Young making three kills.
The only rough patch the ’Jackets went through was in the second game, but Caraway refused to blame Tuesday’s drama for the bad game.
“If we were going to have a letdown today, it should have come right away in the first game out,” Caraway said. “We just didn’t pass very well, and our mental focus was non-existent.”
Caraway can afford to be hyper-critical of his team given their dominance of the ACCAL. In fact, he is almost forced to focus on the bad stretches rather than the good, since Encinal is the only league team to take a game from Caraway’s squad this season. Unless Encinal can manage to win the rematch later this year, the ’Jackets will almost surely have their second straight undefeated ACCAL season.
“We’re focusing on having Encinal at home and getting ready for the Northgate/Acalanes tournament in a couple of weeks,” said Caraway, who has scheduled several tough tournaments for his team to compensate for the lack of competition in league play.
The ’Jackets next face an away match at De Anza on Tuesday.