Alameda High was supposed to be just another speed bump in Berkeley High’s road to a third straight volleyball league championship, but they turned out to be more of a traffic jam.
The Yellowjackets, however, would not be slowed down, keeping their conference record perfect at 7-0 with a 3-1 (15-7, 14-16, 15-6, 15-6) win. It was only the second time Berkeley lost a game to a conference opponent in three years.
“Most teams in our league don’t challenge us,” Berkeley head coach Justin Caraway said. “We struggled with our mental focus.”
Berkeley seemed to have command of the second game after a seven-point run gave them a 7-2 lead. The Hornets battled back to tie the game at 12-12, but Berkeley seniors Amalia Jarvis and Vanessa Williams countered with a service ace and a spike respectively to give Berkeley game point. Errors on serves and returns halted the Jackets’ momentum, however, and the Hornets took the game 16-14.
Williams said the team’s lack of focus cost them the game.
“I felt like we were making great plays, then our communication would break down,” Williams said.
Berkeley was on the verge of losing control of the match in the third game. Alameda battled to a 6-5 lead, but the hard-hitting Berkeley offense started to wear on the Hornets. The Jackets took advantage of five errors by Alameda for 10-0 run, capped by Jarvis’ kill and service ace, to close out the game.
In the fourth game the Jackets responded to falling down 2-0 by reeling off seven straight points. The Hornets mounted a comeback, pulling within 7-5, but a Jarvis service ace ignited an 8-1 run for Berkeley to close out the game.
Nadia Qabazard and Williams were both surprised at how well Alameda was able to dig their attackers’ spikes.
“We’ve never seen a team that could dig,” said Williams, who had 16 digs of her own.
“We couldn’t just hit the ball right into their team,” said Qabazard, who led the team with 18 digs. “We had to get a lot better at hitting certain spots in their defense.”
Williams and Jarvis were able hit their spots in the Alameda defense, leading the team with 14 and 13 kills respectively. Jarvis added 13 digs and four blocks.
Caraway found a hole in Berkeley’s attack that the team will have to improve on when they start the second half of league play.
“Our serving was horrendus,” said Caraway. Berkeley, 13-8 overall, had 23 service errors in the game. “We had an off night. We are usually a really good serving team.”
Williams, despite not feeling mentally prepared for the match, said she knew what was coming in today’s practice.
“After all the running we will be doing tomorrow we will figure it out,” Williams said.