The 2016 season might be over for the Turlock varsity volleyball team, but their legacy will live on after ending the year with the best finish in program history for any Bulldog squad.
All of the hard work during the long season came to a dramatic end in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to No. 1 Menlo-Atherton in the Northern California Division I regional semifinal.
“Never have I been more proud of a group of athletes. This group made history with the hearts of giants,” said Turlock head coach Amber Lugo.
It wasn't the shortest route or season by any means as they faced adversity and learned a lot on the way into a state regional playoff game, something they didn't necessarily anticipate.
The 'Dogs opened up their tournament play in the D-I bracket with a 3-0 sweep over Palo Alto, followed by a 3-0 road sweep over Redwood last Saturday in the second round.
In that game, the 'Dogs were led by setter Julia Handy (Arizona) who had a game-high 30 assists to go with her five kills and five blocks. Jadyn Tubbs led all with 11 kills of her own. As a team, the 'Dogs served 13 aces.
The first set ended with a 25-21 win and the second set saw the largest margin of victory by seven points, which eventually led to the closest set in the third after a two-point victory.
“They say grit is what is needed to be successful. These girls are the definition. Surround yourself with great people if you want to be great, and I have with my assistant coach, Fatima Handy,” said Lugo.
They were more than successful, defying the odds after losing in the D-I Section Championship game to crosstown rivals, Pitman, which was eliminated in the first round of the state Open Division.
Turlock was the lone representative for nearly a week and as the No. 5 team in the region, they took that to heart.
After winning their first two games in straight sets, they finally met Menlo-Atherton, a Bay Area powerhouse which always seems to compete in the state tournament for volleyball.
The 'Dogs never fully got things going after losing the opening set, 25-14.
In the second set, the Bulldogs came the closest to winning but eventually lost 25-21, setting up the third game for a possible elimination.
Menlo came out firing away in the third set and ended the Bulldogs' year with a 25-12 final to complete the sweep.
Handy added 22 assists and three kills. Jazmyn Tubbs tallied seven kills and Bella Bush finished with eight kills for the game.
The team also finished with two state postseason victories along with their first ever Division I Sac-Joaquin Section Championship appearance. They finish with an overall record of 28-12 and second place in the CCC with a 10-2 posting.
“Tonight we faced our toughest opponent and we fell short. We are already looking forward to next year,” said Lugo.
Turlock will returns their two standouts in JadynTubbs (Pacific) and Handy (Arizona) for next year after both juniors took their game to another level and verbally committed to their respective universities.
The 'Dogs also look to return Bush, Jazmyn Tubbs and also Audrey Dykzeul.
Altogether Turlock combined for a postseason record of 5-2 in the section and state tournament.