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An impressive start
Ceres High's varsity volleyball team made its 2008 debut Thursday night.

Sparked by the stellar play of a trio of newcomers and three returners, the host Bulldogs rolled past the Downey Knights, 3-0, at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

Six-foot-1 Jamie Beck, a standout at the junior-varsity level last year, dominated at the net. The slim sophomore finished with eight kills and two blocks.

Junior Rachel Nevarez, a teammate of Beck in 2007, contributed eight assists and four digs.

Junior Kaela Causey, a transfer from Central Valley, tallied four assists, three digs and two kills.

Jode Johnson, Leah Rose and Aimee Gunzenhauser, members of the 2007 varsity squad, also chipped in.

Johnson, a junior, totaled nine digs, five aces and four kills.

Rose, a junior, added 11 digs and four aces.

Gunzenhauser, a senior, had eight digs, four aces and two kills.

"For it being our first game, we did great," Causey said. "We all knew where to go. It was a fun match. It seemed like everybody had an adrenaline rush tonight."

"We weren't worried about the points," Johnson added. "All we cared about was communication."

Ceres High jumped out to a 11-1 lead and held on for a 25-20 victory in Game 1.

The Bulldogs tallied four straight points with Rose serving on their way to a 25-7 triumph in Game 2.

Ceres High fell behind for the first time at 11-10 in Game 3. The Bulldogs finished the Knights off with a 15-6 run.

"They definitely exceeded our expectations tonight," head coach Stephanie Hamilton said. "They did really well. We've been working them hard at practice."

Bulldog players bonded while weight training and conditioning during the summer months. They also attended a week-long camp.

Causey has been a valuable addition. Her older sister was a standout at Ceres High.

"I'm just really happy playing here," Kaela said. "I've always been a Bulldog at heart."

"At first we were a little standoffish because she's from Central Valley, but she's been great with us," Johnson said of her new teammate. "She always trying to help out. She did a phenomenal job tonight. All of her passes were excellent."

Causey and the Hawks split with the Bulldogs in 2007.