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Bulldogs edge out Atwater; pick up fifth CCC victory
Turlock volley
Turlocks Emily Romo (left) and Julia Handy (right) look to block a kill attempt from an Atwater opponent during Wednesdays 3-2 win at home. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

Only a month is left of league play for local volleyball teams and Turlock High looks to make a run into the postseason with one of the youngest teams in the Central California Conference.

The Bulldogs (5-3) picked up their second consecutive CCC victory over Atwater High (2-4) on Wednesday after nudging out a 3-2 victory at home, (22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 21-25 and 15-12).

It was a close match in the first game, but Atwater was able to knock out the ‘Dogs by three.

Turlock would then strike back, winning two games, only to fall in the fourth, which then set up the finale where the Bulldogs, who have only gotten better as the year moves on, beat out the Falcons by three.

“Who wouldn’t be proud of what the girls did? That was a crazy all-out effort,” said Turlock head coach Amber Castillon. “Everyone did what they needed to do, and I am sure it was fun to watch but I just added more gray hairs. It is a big morale booster for us. Our confidence is up after this win.”

With the fifth league victory, the ‘Dogs are currently in second place, trailing only Pitman (8-0) in the CCC with a rematch scheduled for Wednesday.

“I think it will come down to the third round since it’s too early to tell how league will pan out,” Castillon said. “We are just looking to play as well as we can and just continue to have fun because this win was fun.”

It not only looked fun from a spectators perspective but the girls were out there enjoying themselves as they battled against a very tough Falcons team from start to finish.

The only lopsided victory came in the second game after Turlock had lost the first.

The ‘Dogs were able to knock off the Falcons by a score of 25-14 to tie the match at 1-1.

Led by freshman setter Julia Handy, the Bulldogs stayed consistent for a majority of the match, despite the huge age gap between the two teams.

Handy was able to save numerous close calls at the end with her never ending engine and set up her teammates nicely with near perfect touches.

“The one thing I will say about Julia is she never quits on a ball, never,” Castillon said. “She can make a play out of anything and she sees the entire court better than most freshmen.”

Handy, the leader in the CCC in assists, would finish the night with 10 kills, two aces, eight digs and a game-high 57 assists, to now amass 475 for the season thus far and is averaging 21.6 assists per game.

“She is a leader and her knowledge of the game is far beyond her years and the fact that I get to watch her for the next few years it is an honor and privilege,” said Castillon.

Pitman’s Madelyn Halteman is second in the CCC with 405 assists for the season so far.

Turlock would fall in the fourth after an intense matchup, where Atwater pulled out the 25-21 win, but Turlock was just far superior in closing out the match.

Lauren Clark finished with a team-high 18 digs, while Victoria Larsen ended her night leading the team in kills (29) and added two aces and 14 digs.

“It’s been an intense week for the girls with so much going on for them as well. They do so much, they don’t just play volleyball because some of our girls also play soccer,” Castillon added. “They are multifaceted and the way they are staying healthy is another reason to admire them.”

Turlock will travel to Pitman to face off against the Pride with the game set to start at 6 p.m. Wednesday.