Ceres High's varsity boys volleyball program just missed securing a berth to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs during its first year of existence in 2016.
The Bulldogs reached their goal this spring.
"We had a sour taste of not making it the year before," Ceres High senior Chris Lubinsky said. "We used that as motivation going into this season. It's pretty cool to be a part of the first team to make the playoffs."
Twelfth-seeded Ceres High lost 3-0 to No. 5 Burbank in the Division-II playoff tournament on May 9 in Sacramento.
"That's the best team we've played this year," Lubinsky said. "They were undersized but were really athletic and hit the ball well. They did everything well. They were very skilled. We played them tough. We just made more mistakes. That hurt us in the end. They definitely deserved to win."
Ceres High posted a 20-10 overall record in 2017.
The Bulldogs tied for second in the Western Athletic Conference standings (10-5) with Los Banos.
"Being able to make playoffs is very special," Lubinksy said. "It's a big accomplishment. I'm not surprised. We had a year of experience under our belts. We had a lot of guys that wanted to win. We all worked hard. All of us love competition."
Ceres High also compiled a 3-0 record against crosstown-rival Central Valley.
"Fortunately for us, we played well all three times," Lubinsky said.
Ceres High will lose three players to graduation, including Lubinsky, Jordan McGrath and Vinay Soni.
Key contributors Cristian Garcia, Christian Murry, Gustavo Hernandez, Eduardo Torres and Ivan Arita are expected to return to the team next spring.
The Bulldogs will also add talent from Ceres High's 2017 WAC-champion junior-varsity boys squad.
"This was an important year for the program," Lubinksy said. "With us making the playoffs, I feel that will get more kids to try out for the team (in the future). Hopefully, we'll continue to improve, win league titles and advance in the playoffs."
Ceres High thrived under second-year head coach Darlene Tobler's guidance.
Tobler also helped lead the Bulldogs' varsity girls volleyball program back to the playoffs following a five-year absence and a runner-up finish in the WAC standings (9-6) during the fall sports season. Ceres High won just four matches in 2015.
"She's very passionate about volleyball," Lubinsky said. "She enjoys teaching the game and watching us get better. She's done a great job developing players."