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Junior varsity lives on, but varsity falls to Dons

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Friday April 19, 2002

Berkeley High’s boys’ volleyball junior varsity team lived to play another day, and they rewarded Justin Caraway’s decision with a win over De Anza. Unfortunately, their existence doomed the varsity team to a loss. 

The Yellowjacket varsity squad, down to a bare-bones roster of six players, fell 15-12, 15-5, 16-14 to De Anza on Thursday.  

Berkeley (1-6, 1-5 ACCAL) beat the Dons (3-3 ACCAL) to open the season on March 26, their only win of the last two years, but couldn’t muster much of an attack without any substitutes on Thursday. With three players under 5-foot-8 and no way to rotate them out, the ’Jackets were almost constantly stuck with a severe height disadvantage at the net. 

“We did what we could with what we’ve got,” Berkeley head coach Caraway said. “(The smaller players) held their own up there.” 

When varsity starter Ethan Ashley went down with an ankle sprain on Tuesday, Caraway considered abandoning the first-year junior varsity program in order to have a bench for the rest of the varsity season. He decided against it on Wednesday, but admitted he might not have done so if he had known just how short-handed he would be against the Dons. Ed Peszewski, who has suited up in just one game for the ’Jackets due to eligibility issues, was benched once again on Thursday, much to Caraway’s dismay. 

“I thought we’d have Ed when I made the decision about the JV,” Caraway said. “Then I found out just this morning that he still can’t play.” 

Caraway left the door open to pull up the JV players, but Peszewski’s status and Ashley’s response to aggressive treatment will be the deciding factors. 

“We’ll see what happens next week,” Caraway said. 

Thursday’s loss was pretty much inevitable, considering Berkeley’s lack of height and firepower. Junior Robin Roach, already the focal point of the offense, has been a one-man show all season. Although Sam Fuller and Dan Sanders each had four kills, Roach was clearly the target man, receiving sets whenever possible. He finished the game with 11 kills and seven blocks, but whenever the rotation put him in the back row the Berkeley offense went dead. 

“If we can score when Robin’s in front, and hold on when he’s in the back row, we could be okay,” Caraway said. 

That formula didn’t quite work. De Anza had runs of seven and 10 points in the second and third games, respectively, with Roach in the back row. Although the second game quickly got out of hand, the ’Jackets weathered the storm and got Roach back to the net in the final game. He led them on a comeback from down 12-3 to up 13-12, although the streak was interrupted when Berkeley got out of rotation, costing them a point. Roach had five kills and two blocks during the hot stretch. 

That lost point would come back to haunt them, as they went up 14-13 and one more point would have won the game. But a service error gave serve back to the Dons, and after several side-outs, De Anza’s Kelly Sinclair hit two kills to put the game away.