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Hawks, Bulldogs rewarded in volleyball
Alyssa Long rarely left the court while playing for Central Valley High School's varsity volleyball team this season.

The junior middle blocker's all-round play propelled the Hawks to a program-best fifth-place finish at 7-9 in the Valley Oak League standings.

Long was recognized in a vote of VOL head coaches on Sunday, Nov. 8 at a pizza parlor in Oakdale, along with Ceres High's Jamie Beck and Jode Johnson.

Alyssa filled one of the 11 spots on the conference's second team. She was also named Central Valley's Most Valuable Player.

"I'm really bummed out she didn't get first team," Hawks head coach Tauheedah Gaines said. "She was our backbone. She stepped up her role on defense. One thing that distinguishes her from others is her ability to work with her teammates. She's not a selfish player. She gives other girls chances. I wish I had one more Alyssa."

Long filled the stat sheet with 13 kills, 13 digs and five blocks in Central Valley's 9-25, 25-19, 25-23, 26-24 upset of Sac-Joaqin Section Division III playoff participant Sierra on Sept. 28.

She also had standout games during the Hawks' combined six victories against East Union, Weston Ranch and Lathrop.

"At times I'd sit her out and team chemistry was different," Gaines said. "She was definitely an important player. Passing. Hitting. Serving. Setting. She does it all. She's a great athlete."

Central Valley, which remained in the hunt for a playoff berth until the final two weeks of the season, won just four conference matches in 2008.

Beck and Johnson received VOL first- and second-team honors, respectively.

The duo guided the Bulldogs to a fourth-place finish (9-7) and first playoff appearance since 2004. Ceres High posted a 4-10 record last year.

Jamie, a 6-foot-2-inch junior middle blocker, collected 246 kills, 76 serve receptions, 46 blocks, 46 digs and 30 aces in conference play.

Johnson, a senior, tallied 76 kills, 74 serve receptions, 57 digs, 16 aces and 15 blocks.

Central Valley and Ceres High will compete in the Western Athletic Conference next season.