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Jackets start ACCAL season by pounding on Richmond

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday September 25, 2002

Although the Berkeley High girls volleyball team had a rough preseason, there’s one thing the Yellowjackets know they can count on: dominating the Alameda Contra-Costa Athletic League. 

Berkeley, just 1-4 before Tuesday’s league opener, needed just 30 minutes to overwhelm the Richmond Oilers, 15-1, 15-1, 15-5. The Oilers had just one kill in the match and didn’t score a point from play until halfway through the second game. 

Senior Amalia Jarvis led the Berkeley attack with seven kills and no hitting errors, while senior Rachel Phillips served her way to six aces. Junior Nadia Qabazard pitched in with five aces and five digs, and junior Chelsea Bowden had 10 assists. 

The Jackets towered over the Richmond (0-1 ACCAL) players, and it was quickly apparent that Berkeley is still the best team in the ACCAL. The Jackets haven’t lost a match in the two years of the league’s current configuration and don’t figure to break the streak this season. The Oilers struggled just to get Berkeley’s serves back over the net, with no player capable of hitting a spike with any authority. 

“There are a few teams in the league who at least have a player who can hit,” Berkeley head coach Justin Caraway said. “Our defense just doesn’t get a lot of work in these games.” 

Berkeley’s offense worked smoothly on Tuesday with just four hitting errors in the match. The Oilers didn’t exactly make it tough on the Jackets, dinking easy free balls over the net for easy passes and sets by Berkeley. Richmond’s only point of the first game came on a rotation penalty on the Jackets. Caraway doesn’t expect much better competition from the other teams in the league and said he will use ACCAL games to work on things like jump serving and offensive experimentation. 

But after winning the North Coast Section title last season, Caraway isn’t too happy with his team’s performance so far this year. Not-even-close losses to Bishop O’Dowd and Castro Valley, two of the teams Berkeley went through for the NCS title last season, have revealed a Berkeley team that is still reeling from the loss of 6-foot-5 middle blocker Desiree Guilliard-Young. Guilliard-Young left the Berkeley as the school’s all-time leader in kills and blocks. 

With senior Vanessa Williams moving to the middle and six-footers Claire Vacarro and Brittany Mabry providing quality depth, the Jackets will still have little trouble with the height-challenged teams of the ACCAL. But with Mabry ineligible at the moment and no Guillard-Young to scare the opposition, they will have to spread the offense around to be effective against top-level teams. 

“Once we get Brittany back, we’ll be in good shape,” Caraway said. “I’d like to see more motion in our offense, so we can mix up where we’re hitting the ball.” 

The Jackets will get another test when they play in the Top of the Bay Tournament this weekend in Santa Rosa. Most of Northern California’s best teams will take part in the tournament.