Turlock High volleyball coach Amber Lugo wasn’t thrilled with her Bulldogs being thrown into the cauldron known as the CIF Open Division when it came time for regional play.
“I don’t think any of us were very pleased with it,” said Lugo. “But the CIF has makes their decision and we have to deal with it.”
The Bulldogs “dealt with it” by defeating first-round opponent No. 6 Menlo 25-16, 13-25, 25-23, 17-25, 15-12 in the opening round of the Northern California regional tournament Thursday at Bulldog Arena. Turlock will travel to Kentfield -- in Marin County -- on Tuesday to face No. 2 Marin Catholic, a 26-24, 25-21, 29-27 winner over St. Francis (Mountain View) on Thursday in the regional semifinals.
“We weren’t expecting it but when we found out the information we were honored,” said senior opposite Audrey Dykzeul of being placed in the state’s top playoff division. “They think we’re a top-three team in Northern California, we took and used it to build up our pride.”
Turlock proved worthy of the No. 3 seeding right from the start, take the first set and making the Melo look overmatched. But the Knights (29-6) bounced back, making the Bulldogs look overmatched.
“We had our moments where the belief might have faltered a little bit,” said Lugo, whose team improves to 34-8. “I’m so proud of them. The got right back in there and said, ‘We can do this.’”
Senior setter Julia Handy was at a loss to explain the lapses in the Bulldogs’ game.
“I think we would get in strange rotations and funks that we couldn’t get out of and we, like, doubted ourselves,” said Handy, who recorded 44 assists and 10 digs. “I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s weird.
Menlo’s big hitters had a lot to do with it.
“They were just a big team in general,” said middle blocker Isabella Bush, who had 12 kills and seven blocks. “We knew they were going to get every ball if they got it in system. We just knew they were good at hitting in spots.”
In the fifth set, Turlock’s Mary Padilla served for the match. Menlo couldn’t set up an attack and had to surrender the ball over the net. Handy set the ball to libero Jadyn Tubbs, who lofted a perfect set to her sister Jazmyn Tubbs, who thumped a cross-court winner for her 16th kill of the contest that sealed the contest.