The Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls volleyball quarterfinal between Turlock High and Tracy High was supposed to be a continuation of Turlock’s successful 2015 campaign and a return to the upper levels of post season competition. Fresh off their first playoff win since 2006 and with powerful weapons on the court, the blue and gold Bulldogs hosted their green and gold counterparts on Thursday with every intention of repeating the preseason performance in which they beat Tracy 3-1.
Instead, Tracy turned the tables on a Turlock team that struggled to find its rhythm, earning a 1-3 (20-25, 22-25, 25-20, 20-25) upset win to advance to play Pleasant Grove High.
“I was totally surprised by it; that hasn’t happened. There was a total lack of cohesiveness,” Turlock head coach Amber Castillon said. “There was six individuals on the court.”
Turlock’s girls found themselves playing from behind immediately as Tracy scored six unanswered points to open the first game. Turlock rallied back to tie the game at eight points apiece with the power of sophomore Jadyn Tubbs and senior Emily Romo, but Tracy’s senior tandem of Kaylah Jenkins and Lauren Arena stymied Turlock at the net and forced a back-and-forth battle that eventually went to Tracy.
“Blocks always fire up the team,” Tracy head coach Mahina McCamey said. “After we won the first one today I just said we’ve got to keep it going.”
Tracy’s defense coupled with the offense of Grace Murphy continued to put the pressure on Turlock as it again jumped out to a big lead to start the second game. Turlock played from the trail or tied position for the entire second game, showing flashes of its potential with Tubbs, Romo, and sophomore Julia Handy that were countered with mistakes caused by miscommunication.
“I think they felt the pressure,” Castillon said of her girls.
Turlock managed to take the third game thanks to a focused effort by its offense and key contributions at the net by Audrey Dykzeul and Sophie Bigler. But even after dropping a game, Tracy entered the fourth with momentum. Jenkins and Arena continued to test Turlock’s strengths at the net, putting up big blocks against Turlock’s Tubbs and Romo.
“I kind of felt like they were getting it back, but it was so hard to try and get it back and it was so fragile,” Castillon said.
Turlock pulled within a point of Tracy, making it 19-20, before Presley put the seal on the upset with a match-point kill that sent her team into full blown celebration mode and left Turlock stunned.
“When you’re in a tight game in the fourth game, you can’t mess up. And we had unforced errors and those are a big no-no in that point of the game,” Castillon said.
Murphy finished the match with 14 kills while Presley notched seven kills, six blocks and 19 assists.
As for Turlock, Tubbs finished with 19 kills, Romo finished with 11 kills, and handy finished with three blocks and 37 assists.
“No one can be more disappointed tonight than the girls because they do love to win and they know how,” Castillon said. “The fact that they didn’t do that tonight, I know it’s going to haunt them and I told them to use it, learn from it, leave it here, and take away the season that they had. They’ve accomplished things that no one has at Turlock High in a very long time.”