Turlock varsity volleyball is one step closer to matching what they accomplished last year, but first they had to go through Gregori High in the first round of the Division I Sac-Joaquin Section tournament.
The Bulldogs hosted the Jaguars on Thursday night and handled the Modesto Metro Conference runner-ups in a 3-0 sweep.
“It was a good win, we played a bit dry, not our best volleyball which is good because we showed we can always improve and get better,” said Turlock’s Julia Handy. “It’s just a stepping stone because I know Thursday is going to be a really fun match, since I play against some of those girls in club.”
That team is Pleasant Grove, which has lost to Pitman in the last two D1 SJS Championship games.
“I think we worked better as a team, unlike our last game on Thursday,” said Turlock senior Sophie Bigler. “We were more in our game. Sure we made errors but we made sure to fix that and not make it repetitive and we got our act together, trying to figure out what was going on.”
It was the third consecutive postseason appearance for Turlock and they capitalized on the opportunity.
The opening set started off well for Turlock, who never trailed, and went on to topple Gregori 25-19, followed by a big 25-13 win in the second set that ended in a 7-3 run for the Bulldogs.
“I think we can play. I have definitely seen us play better, especially at our tournaments, but I thought we had good moments,” said Turlock senior Brett Hanson. “We had sparks when we ran our middle very well and our passing and servicing was really well, but towards the third we kind of slowed down the pace.”
The third set was the closest of the night yet.
Gregori contested well and picked up the pace. They even led the Bulldogs before reaching the double digit points. Once Turlock tied it at 10-10, all bets were off as they went on a 15-10 run to knock off the Jaguars at home.
“I think we could have played a lot better, but a win is a win and we are going to learn from it since we have a tough game coming up,” said Bigler. “We are just going to play our game and make adjustments of course but will still play within ourselves.”
Handy had four blocks, 28 assists and 11 digs. Bigler added six kills and five blocks. Hanson finished with seven digs while Kennedy Folly tallied five digs.
Audrey Dykzeul finished with four aces. Jadyn Tubbs added nine kills and six digs while sister Jazmyn added five kills. Bella Bush tallied four kills.
“I think we will have an intense practice on Wednesday to get ready for Pleasant Groves’ hitting and I think since we have a good defense, we will match up well,” said Handy. “My club team is really small and I think if you play defense you always have a chance.”
Turlock’s next game will be on the road against No. 3 Pleasant Grove at 7 p.m. Thursday.“We know they have two big hitters that are twins, but it doesn’t matter how big because defense wins championships,” Hanson added. “So I think if we can play defense like we did against Pitman the first time, we should be okay.”