Ceres High School's varsity girls volleyball program has made great strides under head coach Darlene Tobler's guidance.
The Bulldogs returned to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs this past fall following a five-year absence.
Ceres High will eye a bigger prize in 2017 and the immediate future.
"They have a lot of potential to be very successful," said Tobler, third-year leader of the Bulldogs. "It would be amazing to win the conference. That is our goal every year and we will continue to work and improve to get there."
Ceres High's roster features a handful of returning players and a host of newcomers.
The Bulldogs' top returnees are Madison Nash (Sr.), Diana Zarco (Sr.), Karina Pulido (Sr.) and Alyssa Stiles (Jr.).
Isabel Diazdeleon (Jr.), Isabel Macias (Jr.), Julissa Arreola (Jr.), Kyara Rodriguez (Jr.), Mya Robinson (So.), Samantha Carvajal (Jr.), Siriana Gudino (So.) and Yanelli Rodriguez (Jr.) are new to the team.
Diazdeleon, Macias, Arreola, Robinson, Carvajal, Gudino, Kyara Rodriguez and Yanellia Rodriguez helped lead Ceres High's frosh-soph girls volleyball squad to a 16-3 overall record and first-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference standings (14-1) last fall.
"We have a very young and new team with only four returning varsity players," Tobler said. "It will take 100 percent effort and dedication to get to the playoffs. They are already giving me and our team their all, so we will continue to grow and build our team."
Nash, Stiles and Zarco are team captains.
Madison earned second-team all-WAC honors her junior year.
Nash had 278 digs, 121 kills and 50 aces.
Alyssa was an honorable-mention WAC selection as a sophomore.
She collected 269 digs, 98 kills, 49 blocks and 30 aces.
"These three athletes are leaders in practice and games," Tobler said. "They are great examples of a good teammate and keep our team motivated. They all show initiative, they bring a lot of energy and they support all three levels. I couldn't ask for more from a captain."
Ceres High compiled a 9-6 record on its way to a runner-up finish during the 2016 WAC campaign.
The Bulldogs won just four matches in 2015.
Ceres High secured the WAC's second playoff spot with a 3-1 (25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 25-9) win over cross-town-rival Central Valley.
The Bulldogs finished one game ahead of the third-place Hawks in the conference standings.
Ceres High lost its previous 12 matches to Central Valley dating back to the 2011 season.
The Bulldogs lost 3-2 (25-22, 21-25, 25-21, 7-25, 15-9) and 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-19) to the Hawks last year.
Ceres High has an all-time record of 10-13 versus Central Valley.
"You know I never play into the rivalry between CHS and CV," Tobler said. "These are all kids from Ceres who at some point or another have been in school together or played sports together. Our athletes are always excited to play them because of friendships outside of school. I always encourage my team to work hard, have fun and stay focused on the game itself."