Berkeley clinches 2nd ACCAL title
Eventually, the Berkeley High girls’ volleyball team will lose an ACCAL match. But Thursday, they beat their toughest league opponent for the second time this year, extending their winning streak in league play to 24 games and clinching their second straight league title.
The Encinal Jets took Berkeley to five games in their last meeting, but the ’Jackets simply overpowered them this time, winning in four games, 15-1, 15-8, 14-16, 15-2. Their only cold streak came in the third game, as they allowed the Jets to come back from a 14-3 deficit to win the game.
Berkeley middle blocker Desiree Guilliard-Young didn’t win the statistical battle with Jackie Randolph, last year’s league MVP, but her team came out on top and she faced Randolph down several times, as three of her four blocks came on Randolph spikes.
Guilliard-Young finished with seven kills, paling in comparison to Randolph’s 15 to go with three blocks, but the Berkeley star got much more help from her teammates. Outside hitter Vanessa Williams had 13 kills and 11 digs, while outside hitter Amalia Jarvis had eight kills. Encinal, on the other hand, had no player other than Randolph with more than three kills.
“You just have to control Jackie when you can, and shut down everyone else,” Berkeley coach Justin Caraway said. “She’s going to get her points, but you can’t let anyone else beat you.”
Randolph was virtually invisible in the first two games, managing just two kills and two blocks. But she did manage to ignite Encinal’s only big run, taking control of the third game with her team on the brink of being swept. She led her team back from 14-3 to 14-9 with several nice digs, then drove two kills to make the score 14-11. When Berkeley managed a side out, Randolph answered with another kill, then served the last five points of the match, including two aces.
But the ’Jackets refused to let the collapse continue. Williams came through with three kills early in the final game as Berkeley jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back.
Caraway said his team played its best game of the season on Thursday, passing and serving better than any game this year. He even declined to rip into his players for the collapse in the third game, chalking it up to some good serving from the Jets and bad communication on his team’s part.
“The only thing that disappointed me was that we dominated all four games, but we lost one,” he said. “We outplayed them in every facet of the game, but we just got tentative and scared for a little bit.”
The ’Jackets have yet to lose a match in league play since joining the ACCAL last season. Caraway admitted that going undefeated two years in a row would be an impressive feat, no matter how uneven the competition is.
“We’re sitting pretty at 12-0 right now, but we want to finish undefeated,” he said. “Can I see us losing to either of the next two opponents (El Cerrito and De Anza)? No. But you never know what will happen on any given day.”