Call it magic or call them the best to ever do it in program history, but either way the 2017 Turlock High varsity volleyball team will be remembered for years to come.
They worked hard and left their mark at the school, stamping their legacy and leaving behind the single best season in program history after they captured the first ever Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I championship—besting their season from a year ago after they were runners-up.
Now, a year later, repeating is definitely a goal, but it’s a lofty one that will take a bigger effort especially since the ‘Dogs graduated three Division-I collegiate athletes.
“We anchored our team with the veterans and we are very fortunate to have a lot of sophomores coming up. We are very young, we have a lot of young players,” said Turlock head coach Amber Castillon. “Many of them did the work this offseason and we definitely have our work cut out for us, but skill and talent and grit is there. I am excited about the group.”
“Big difference is last year I wasn’t one of the star players but this year I know I need to step up and we have potential to be a really talented team,” said Turlock senior Sarah Romo. “We just need to get the younger players in rhythm with us since there are big shoes to fill. Even if we are missing a lot of our D-I players, I think we are capable of doing well in league and past league.”
This is also the first year that Turlock, along with Pitman, joins the newly created Central California Athletic League.
Last year’s Turlock High varsity volleyball team left an unforgettable legacy, becoming the final Turlock team to win the CCC in the final year competing. The Bulldogs went 34-9 overall and won their second CCC title in three years after amassing a perfect 12-0 CCC record. Turlock ended the year ranked at No. 31 in California according to maxpreps.com.
Their SJS playoff run included a four-game win streak that saw them topple three of the best teams in the section, including the No. 6, No. 7 and No. 1 seeds, respectively. In all four SJS playoff games, Turlock didn’t go to five sets, but rather defeated all four opponents in four sets or less.
Turlock beat out Modesto, a future Central California Athletic League foe, in the first round, 3-0. This win set them up in the quarterfinal round where they met No. 6 Granite Bay and notched a 3-1 victory to earn a berth in the semifinal.
Facing a familiar foe, Turlock hosted Pleasant Grove in the semifinal and handled them, 3-1, setting up a section finale against St. Francis of Sacramento. Playing at their home court, and seeded No. 1, St. Francis looked like the favorites heading into the game, but Turlock was far superior and showed it from the start. They beat St. Francis in a shocking 3-1 final, leaving the D-I SJS crown in the town of Turlock for the fourth consecutive season after Pitman won the title from 2014-2016.
“Being part of the squad when we had our best year, knowing we can be there, even though we don’t have the same team, but we need to have our standards high,” said Turlock’s Jazmyn Tubbs. “There is hope, we can’t lose that and we can hopefully have some D-I players develop from this squad and we have a bright future. I can see it.”
From last year’s historical team, Turlock graduated five, including their three future Division-I collegiate athletes in Isabella Bush (UC Riverside), Julia Handy (University of Arizona) and Jadyn Tubbs (University of the Pacific).
Thankfully seven are returners, including junior standouts Jazmyn Tubbs and Mary K. Padilla who should be the leaders on this year’s squad. Sarah Romo is also expected to take on a heavy role this upcoming season.
Sarah is the younger sister of current collegiate standout and former Bulldog, Emily Romo (UC Merced).
“They expect a good season and that is what we expect from them as well and they are working really hard and we went from knowing what we are going to do, to not as clear,” said Castillon. “But time will tell. They are a great group of girls that get along great.”
Turlock will kick off the season on the road at Beyer High at 6 p.m. Wednesday August 22.
“I know these girls have a lot of heart and passion that even if we don’t do that good this year, we have a lot of talent coming up,” Romo added. “So, we are staying positive and working really hard and taking it seriously and not messing around.”