Head coach Amber Lugo and her Turlock High volleyball squad made history on Saturday night when the team captured the program’s first Sac-Joaquin Section title, winning outright in the Division-I bracket that concluded with a 3-1 win over St. Francis of Sacramento at the Troubadours court.
“We had our mistakes but we fought hard for every point and the girls handled it, they played really well,” said Lugo.
“Winning a section championship had been a goal of mine since freshman year,” said Turlock's Julia Handy. “After we won that match, the feeling was amazing, but nothing compares to the feeling of holding that blue banner. Winning the first section championship in Turlock High history is incredible and this group of girls is well deserving.”
The 'Dogs now improve to 33-8 overall for the year, having won the most games in a four-year frame with Handy and Jadyn Tubbs on the roster.
Handy and Tubbs, along with the other three seniors and the rest of the group, have proved to be the catalyst for this year's team which has led to major success and a record-breaking year in every sense.
“We have only one 6-foot hitter. If you average our outsides, it’s under 5-foot-8, and to win a section title, definitely shows their heart,” Lugo said.
The Bulldogs capped off the perfect season in their final year in the Central California Conference and even won the program's first section title.
Now, they are embarking on what will be a lengthy run in the state title, hoping to best last year's regional semifinal run.
“Winning sections was our goal, but now we move on to Nor Cals. It is a huge honor to be recognized as one of the top eight teams in Northern California,” said Handy. “The competition is tough, but we being the No. 3 seed, I think we are in a good position to make a run. However, no matter the outcome I am so proud of my team for making history and leaving a legacy at Turlock.”
The opening set wasn't the prettiest as St. Francis managed to grind away from points off serving errors for Turlock and won it 27-25.
“I feel like going into this game we were super hyped up and forgot to just settle down and play volleyball one point at a time,” said Tubbs. “We let some silly points slip away from us simply because of nerves and being on the big stage, but the first set loss got us heated and we realized this game could slip away.”
The Bulldogs rallied and toppled St. Francis 25-22 in the second, 25-21 in the third and 25-16 in the fourth to eventually seal the deal and capture the banner after placing second last season in the same bracket.
Turlock capped off the night with 69 total digs as a team while seniors Tubbs and Handy each added a team-high 23 apiece.
Handy finished with a game-high 43 assists while sophomores Jazmyn Tubbs and Mary Katherine Padilla had a team-high 12 kills each.
Turlock will next compete in the CIF State Volleyball Tournament with their first game slated to take place at the Dog Pound gym against Menlo School at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“Now I am looking forward to Nor Cals. That is something we need to eliminate. We need to get a lead and keep it, but I am so proud of how we played,” Tubbs added. “We kept the momentum after they took that set from us and I don't think we ever looked back or doubted ourselves.”