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ACCAL Jamboree offers a preview of boys’ volleyball

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Friday March 22, 2002

El Cerrito aiming at third straight title 


Four of the six ACCAL boys’ volleyball teams got a sneak peek at each other Thursday in Berkeley at the league’s Volleyball Jamboree. Berkeley head coach Justin Caraway was encouraged by what he saw. 

“We’ll win some games this year. Heck, we could even win some matches,” Caraway said. 

That may not sound like deafening praise, but almost anything would be an improvement over last season. The ’Jackets didn’t win a single match in 2001. In fact, they managed to win just a single game. But with all but two players back this season and the league not looking very strong, Caraway expects his team to show him a little more. 

“We can probably win at least one match,” he said. “ We just need to know that we’re not going to get slaughtered every game.” 

One team the ’Jackets won’t be beating is El Cerrito. The Gauchos have won the last two league titles, going 10-0 in the ACCAL last season, and return the reigning league MVP in Michael Gonzalez. Although Alameda and Richmond didn’t show up to Thursday’s event, El Cerrito is clearly the prohibitive favorite again this year. 

“You never know until you see everyone, but I’ve got a good team back this year,” said head coach Fred Gonzalez (Michael’s father). 

Gonzalez pointed to a strong junior varsity program and several players with club experience as the keys to his program’s dominance. Berkeley, on the other hand, is just establishing a new junior varsity program this season and doesn’t get many players who have grown up with the game. 

“I’m constantly fighting the battle of no volleyball at the middle school level (in Berkeley),” Caraway said. “There’s still the perception that volleyball is a girls’ sport at this school (the Lady ’Jackets have never lost an ACCAL match), and I don’t get the carryover from basketball that other schools do.” 

Still Caraway does have some good players back, including team MVP Robin Roach and setter Joel Li. Roach is still just a junior, and the current squad has just one senior. 

“If we can get a little bit of success this year, then next year with Robin as a senior, we shouldn’t be too bad,” he said.