Turlock High captured its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section Division I volleyball championship with a 25-27, 25-22, 25-21, 25-16 victory over top-seeded St. Francis on Saturday night at St. Francis High School.
The Bulldogs’ historic victory marks the fourth consecutive season a Turlock team has won the D-I banner, with crosstown rival Pitman winning the previous three seasons, including last year’s win over Turlock in the championship contest.
But this year belonged to the Bulldogs (33-8), who won the league title outright after sharing it with the Pride the year before and now have a blue banner to hang in their gymnasium.
“I think we all that sour taste in our mouths coming to play again at sections,” said senior setter Julia Handy, The Bee’s reigning Player of the Year who has committed to play at the University of Arizona next season. “Last year we were just excited to be here, but this year we wanted to win. It had an added intensity after losing last year.”
After splitting the first two sets, Turlock bolted to a 17-12 lead in the third game before St. Francis countered with an 8-2 run to take a 20-19 lead, prompting Bulldogs head coach Amber Lugo to call a timeout. Whatever she said in the huddle worked because Turlock won six of the final seven points – including the first four coming out of the huddle – to go up two sets to one.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with what I said,” said Lugo, who has averaged 31 wins per season over the past three years. “It’s what they said. Julia just told everybody, ‘Don’t let them have the run’ and ‘maximum effort … push.’ ”
Immediately after the timeout, sophomore hitter Jazmyn Tubbs hammered a winner to even the score 20-20, then Handy served up an ace that skipped of the tape, before Tubbs again thumped home another winner to give the Bulldogs a 22-20 advantage.
Tubbs knew she needed to have a big night, going swing for swing against St. Francis bombers Alexa Edwards and Kathryn Kramer.
“I definitely felt like I needed to have a big game,” said Tubbs, a sophomore outside hitter. “Definitely didn’t feel like I had a big game at the beginning, but I finally brought in the end, though. It was just good to be part of the team.”
Senior Jadyn Tubbs, Jazmyn’s sister, said the victory had added significance became she was able to share it with her sister.
“It means everything because we had just these two years to come here and prove ourselves on the court,” said Jadyn Tubbs, who has committed to play at the University of the Pacific. “And I’m glad I was able to do it withy my sister.”
In the decisive fourth set, with the scored 12-12, Turlock reeled off six unanswered points and the Troubies (34-8) seemed to sense their bid for a 13th section banner under head coach Allyn Wright was slipping away.
“I think this just proves that we can play with anyone, anywhere,” said senior middle blocker Isabella Bush.
Both teams will learn Sunday who they play in the CIF Northern California Regional Tournament. Last season, as the section runner-up, the Bulldogs were awarded the fifth seed in the Division I bracket and defeated Palo Alto and Redwood before falling to No. 1 Menlo-Atherton in the semifinals.