Facing an opponent with no real chance to beat his team, Berkeley girls’ volleyball coach Justin Caraway had two goals for Thursday’s match against Richmond: stay focused and try some new lineups. He went one-for-two.
Caraway got to use just about everyone on his bench in different positions against the overmatched Oilers, but his team clearly didn’t have the fire he wanted to see. Although the ’Jackets (17-4 overall, 8-0 ACCAL) dominated the first and third games, giving up just three points combined, they let down big-time in the second game, allowing the Oilers to hang around and tie the game at 7-7 before pulling away to win 15-7.
“It’s tough to keep your mental focus when you’re playing a team like (Richmond), especially when our team has bad focus in the first place,” Caraway said after putting his team through some windsprints after the match. “Games like this that provide no real competition actually hurt us more than they help.”
The ’Jackets simply overpowered the visiting Oilers with their hard-hitting front row. Vanessa Williams, who Caraway recently moved from the middle to the outside, responded with seven kills and four digs, while star middle blocker Desiree Guilliard-Young had four kills and two blocks. Outside hitter Amalia Jarvis dominated the final game of the match, making four kills to lead the ’Jackets to a 15-0 win. Setter Danielle Larue had 21 assists and two aces, and served for the first eight points of the final game.
Jarvis is one of three candidates for the outside hitter spot in Caraway’s new lineup, with Guilliard-Young and Williams the mainstays up front. By using three players as defensive specialists, Caraway has opened up a spot for Emily Friedman, his backup setter and one of the best passers on the team.
“Being able to use Emily in that role will be key,” he said. “We can use more ball control with her on the court. We need that for our rematch with Encinal, and it will be very important in the playoffs.”