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CHS qualifies for section playoffs
Ceres High School's varsity volleyball team earned the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff tournament's final berth on the last day of the Valley Oak League season.

The Bulldogs swept host Lathrop, 25-12, 25-22, 25-23, Wednesday night and finished No. 16 in the power rankings.

"We made it," head coach Stephanie Hamilton said. "I'm so excited for my girls. It's been so long since we've gone to playoffs."

Ceres High's last postseason appearance came in 2004. The Bulldogs' last winning season was in 1998.

This year's team placed fourth in the VOL standings (9-7) as it upped its conference victory total from 2008 by five. Ceres High entered the playoffs with a 21-12 overall record.

"I'm really happy for the seniors," said Jamie Beck, Ceres High's 6-foot-2-inch star. "It means a lot."

Upperclassmen Jode Johnson, Kaela Causey, Rachel Nevarez and Leah Rose had standout games during the Bulldogs' must-win contest against Lathrop.

Johnson had eight digs, eight aces and five kills.

Causey chipped in with nine digs, nine serve receives, seven assists and four kills.

Nevarez dished out 10 assists.

Rose collected eight digs and six serve receives.

Beck tallied 16 kills on 20 attempts, to go along with seven serve receives and five blocks.

"They weren't slacking off because of who they were playing," Hamilton said. "They were really focused."

Ceres High entered the 2009 campaign with high expectations. The Bulldogs shined thanks in large part to improved communication.

"They spend a lot of time together," Hamilton said. "They genuinely like each other."

Added Beck: "We've gotten a lot closer. This year, we have team dinners before every home game."