Third-seeded Turlock High advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I volleyball final with a 25-22, 25-12, 24-26, 25-12 victory over No. 7 Pleasant Grove on Tuesday at Bulldog Arena.
The Bulldogs will travel Saturday to play top-seeded St. Francis (33-7), which dispatched Tracy in three games Tuesday, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20.
But don’t for a minute expect Turlock (33-8) to be nervous about the task ahead. They were nervous enough last year when they reached the D-I final for the first time and lost to crosstown rival Pitman in three sets.
“This time we’re going to be more prepared, more settled down, more focused on winning sections and not just getting there,” said senior setter Julia Handy, The Bee’s reigning Player of the Year who has committed to play at Arizona. “I think our experience will help us a lot this next game.”
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Coach Amber Lugo agreed.
“I think it’s worth its weight in gold,” said Lugo, whose team ended the Eagles’ season for a second consecutive year. They’re really tough mentally right now. You could see that tonight.”
Pleasant Grove fell to Turlock in 25-22, 25-18, 25-16 in last year’s quarterfinals. The two previous seasons, Turlock’s Pitman High ended the Eagles’ season in the section championship game.
Jadyn Tubbs, who has committed to play at the University of the Pacific and is a team co-captain, along with Handy, believes last year’s loss in the final will motivate the Bulldogs.
“Honestly, we have that bitter taste in our mouth from losing sections last year and I think that’s really going to help us push forward,” Tubbs said. “We’ve all been in that pressure situation now so we know how we’re going to come into that game and try and execute every point.
Whatever happens, Lugo expects the best from her team Saturday.
“I expect them to play their hearts out and leave it all on the cour,” said Lugo. “So, whatever happens they’re going to give it their all and that’s all you can ask for any day.”