The Turlock High varsity volleyball program is coming off its first league title in over a decade after finishing last season with an overall record of 32-10, including a draw with Pitman at 9-1 in the Central California Conference, which earned them the title of co-champs after winning in the finale at home.
Now, just a year after the Bulldogs' historic season where they snapped their 19-game losing streak to Pitman, the team is hungry for an even better posting and are assisted with two of the area's best in Jadyn Tubbs and Julia Handy.
“We accomplished our goal of making it further in playoffs than the year before and sharing the CCC title was really one of our biggest goals,” said Turlock head coach Amber Castillon. “I feel this team chemistry is the best it's ever been. The girls and the way they bonded... we already feel it, we are super excited.”
With a bevy of returners, Turlock looks poised to make a deeper run in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs only lost one starter from a year ago in Emily Romo, and although she leaves big shoes to be filled, coach Castillon is confident in her current roster that someone else will be able to take her role—someone like Tubbs.
“To get ready for the year I am transitioning on being a hitter since I play back row in club,” said Tubbs. “Going into this year I really need to focus on getting kills ,but now I know that the competition with me and my sister Jazmyn should bring out the best in us every game.”
Sophie Bigler, Kennedy Folly, Brett Hanson, Isabella Bush and Audrey Dykzeul are all back for the Bulldogs, a team that managed to make the Division-I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs as a No. 2 seed.
“We are all hungry for revenge, the sour taste of losing to Tracy... we are really looking forward to going out and proving everybody wrong,” said Handy of getting upset in the second round to the No. 8 seed Tracy.
Handy, who verbally committed to University of Arizona less than a week ago, is one of the nation's top setters and is expected to continue her tremendous growth for a progressive Bulldogs program.
“I try not to think of the recruiting process and try not to let it affect the way I play, but I think now that I already committed I can focus on playing and on my team and getting better,” said Handy.
Handy was fourth on the team last season with 108 kills. Bigler was third (136) and Tubbs was second at 395, just 12 shy from first place Romo.
Bigler was first with 35 blocks and Handy followed in second with 34 blocks for the year.
“I'd like to lead the team more and be one of the top players. I know I can be, every minute and every set and time I am out there and look to be a leader on and off the court,” said Bigler. “The synergy is great because the entire team gets along well.”
Handy topped all of her teammates in assists by a significant margin, finishing with a whopping 1,082 in 116 sets played.
Handy was third in serving aces (56) and Tubbs was second on the team with 67.
“I think now that Jadyn, myself and Sophie are definitely more experienced, I think we can now help other players as far as mixing the offense and get everyone involved,” said Handy. “We want to make sure our teammates play at a high level with us.”
The team will also welcome a highly regarded incoming freshman, Jazmyn Tubbs, who plays club volleyball for Rage in Ripon, a club that is highly competitive at the national level.
“Jazmyn is joining the team and has played in big games for Rage volleyball,” said Castillon. “She is a great teammate, no egos, they know they cannot do it alone, they get that. Our expectations are big.”
“I think we expect to win the CCC without being co-champs with Pitman,” Bigler added. “Last year we lost Emily but we progressed and have another year under our belt and we are ready.”
Turlock's first official preseason contest will be against St. Mary's of Stockton at home at 6 p.m. Aug. 29.