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Bruins eliminate Ceres volleyball team
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Sue Garcia quit coaching volleyball at Ceres High School following the 1998 season.

"I took a parenting break," she said. "I thought I was done forever."

Garcia returned to the team last season and almost led the Bulldogs into the playoffs.

"I did it as a favor for (Ceres High athletic director Phil de la Porte)," Garcia said. "He needed some help and I said I would.

"It's an exciting game. It's hard to turn your back on hit."

On Wednesday night, the 13th-seeded Bulldogs lost 25-18, 25-14, 25-17 to the fifth-seeded Ponderosa Bruins in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs in Shingle Springs.

"It was such an exciting experience when we made the playoffs and blew out the fourth seed in the first round," Garcia. "It was unfortunate we didn't build on it against Ponderosa. They're experience came through against us. In two of the three games, they were behind."

Meghan Franksen had seven kills, 14 digs and two aces, Elisha Ferguson tallied 15 assists,15 digs and one ace and Krystle Brown added seven kills and was 10 for 11 serving for the Bulldogs.

Ceres' Jessica Hunter, Katie Richards, Jessica Mazza and Monica Hall also contributed. Hunter had three kills, Richards four digs and Mazza one block. Hall had one ace and was 10 for 11 serving.

"We worked hard," Garcia said. "We had 52 digs for the night."

In Game 3, Ceres blew leads of 3-0, 7-4, 11-10 and 15-11.

"Once they tied us at 15-15, we couldn't catch back up to them," Garcia said.

Ceres had just one block and three aces against Ponderosa.

"We didn't take control of the net play like we did against Benicia," Garcia said. "That made a big difference."

Ceres finished fourth in the Modesto Metro Conference with a 7-8 record, went 12-15 overall and secured a berth in the postseason for the first time in five years.

"We had moments of great success this season," Garcia said.

The Bulldogs posted a 3-1 victory over Beyer, the MMC champion, during the regular season. They upset Benicia, the Monticello Empire League champion, in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams were undefeated prior to facing Ceres.

"I always knew this team had the potential to do quite well," Garcia said.

The Bulldogs were led by three seniors, Ferguson, Franksen and Brown. The trio played varsity volleyball all four years. They suited up for the 5-13 and 3-15 Bulldogs in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The 2003 squad went 9-9 in league.

"Making the playoffs is the greatest goal you can accomplish," Ferguson said.

Added Garcia: "That's what the girls have worked for for four years."

The Bulldogs will be holding their award banquet in Room 38 at Ceres High School on Thursday at 2:45 p.m. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier