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CHS boys' volleyball drop playoff opener, 3-0, to Antelope
Heese and volleyball
Ceres High’s boys volleyball team compiled a 12-6 overall record, placed third in the WAC and qualified for the playoffs this spring.

Second-year head coach Kelly Heese didn’t express any disappointment following the Ceres High School boys volleyball team’s season-ending loss.

The 16th-seeded Bulldogs fell 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-19) to top-seeded Antelope in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs on May 2.

“Generally speaking, it takes three years to build a good program,” Heese said. “The fact we made it to playoffs this year was awesome. From what they did from last year to this year, I’m very pleased with the progress. They have nothing to be ashamed about. I’m proud of the job they did this year.”

Ceres High compiled a 12-6 overall record and finished in third place with a 9-5 mark in the Western Athletic Conference standings this season.

The Bulldogs went 2-17 and finished last in the WAC standings (1-14) last spring.

“Compared to last year, it was day and night,” Heese said. “The talent was there last year. But the mindset wasn’t. They were a lot more focused this year. They didn’t give up. They learned how to fight.”

Upset-minded Ceres High put up a fight against Antelope.

“We were competing with them,” Heese said. “It’s not like we got slaughtered.”

The Bulldogs outscored the Titans 4-0 to start the first set.

Antelope’s fast-paced offense proved to be problematic the rest of the match.

“We were at their mercy over and over,” Heese said. “They ran a very quick offense. I felt like we could have competed better. It (the final result) is not what I hoped for. But I was proud of the job that they did do.”

Ceres High welcomed the challenging of competing against Antelope.

“It was a good opportunity to see what’s out there and the difference in level of play,” Heese said. “It’s huge. The pace of the game is different. You got to stay alert and play consistent.”

Bulldog Isaiah De La Torre collected 11 assists, 10 digs, two blocks and one kill versus the Titans.

David Flores tallied 11 digs.

Izaiah Rodriguez totaled 10 digs and one kill.

Ethan Oiterong had nine digs, two kills and two blocks.

Andre Pina had six kills.

Faiva Tuakalau had four kills and four digs.

Manny Ortega had three blocks, two digs and one kill.

Gio Sio had one kill and one dig.

Bo Moring had one dig.

Ceres High will lose five players to graduation, including De La Torre, Flores, Rodriguez, Oiterong and Tuakalau.

“You grow attached to them,” Heese said. “You hate to see them go. But it’s part of the process.”

Pina, Ortega, Sio and Moring could return to the team next spring.

The Bulldogs will strive for continued success.

“We’ll give it our best,” Heese said. “That’s all you can. Play. Have fun. And work hard.”

Ceres High players would benefit dramatically from playing volleyball year-round according to Heese.

“You can’t expect to be good at something you only do two months out of the year,” she said. “You’re only going to be able to go so far with that.”