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CHS, CV close out COVID-shortened season
Samantha Espinoza and Azalia Diaz
Central Valley’s volleyball program will lose two players to graduation, including Samantha Espinoza and Azalia Diaz.

Ceres High’s volleyball team played just a total of six matches this season.

Six contests were canceled due to COVID protocols.

“We’re grateful for what we got,” head coach Kelly Heese said. “We’re also saddened we got a shortened season. Something is better than nothing.”

The Bulldogs posted a 4-2 overall record and finished second in the Western Athletic Conference South Division standings (2-2).

Pacheco (4-0) won the league title.

Crosstown-rival Central Valley (1-5, 1-3) tied for last with Los Banos.

The Bulldogs went 1-1 versus the Hawks.

Ceres High won the first meeting, 3-0, on April 20.

Central Valley won the rematch, 3-1, on May 4.

The Bulldogs topped WAC North member Grace Davis twice.

“When we ran our offense, we were unstoppable,” Heese said. 

Ceres High split with Los Banos during the final week of the WAC season.

“We learned from our mistakes,” Heese said.

The Bulldogs avenged a 3-1 loss with a 3-1 win on Senior Night at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium on May 19.

“We were able to run our offense,” Heese said. “That was the difference. We finished on a strong note.”

Heese recognized Ceres High seniors Allison Stiles and Bethanie Thornberry during their final match with the Bulldogs.

Stiles, Ceres High’s setter and best all-round player, contributed at the varsity level for three-plus seasons.

“We’re both alike,” Heese said. “We love the game.”

The Bulldogs could vie for WAC championships in the immediate future according to Heese.

“I believe it’s in the cards the next two years for them if they’re willing to put in the work,” Heese said while talking about Ceres High’s WAC-title hopes. “We got a lot of talent.”

Hawks compile 2-4 record

Central Valley’s volleyball team compiled a 2-4 record and tied for last place in the Western Athletic Conference South Division standing s with Los Banos this season.

“It was a productive year,” head coach Regina Selfridge stated. “I say that because I had kids on varsity that hadn’t played before. They learned a lot.”

Central Valley played just a total of six matches this season.

Several matches were canceled due to COVID protocols.

Johansen didn’t field a team because of a lack of interest.

The Hawks (1-3) collected their lone win in WAC South play against the second-place Ceres High Bulldogs (2-2).

Central Valley beat Ceres High once.

The Hawks lost twice to Pacheco and Mountain House.

“Every game we got better,” Selfridge said. “We grew.”

The majority of Central Valley’s players played multiple sports this spring as the Sac-Joaquin Section modified its schedule this school year due to COVID-19. 

“We didn’t have a lot of practice time together because of softball and wrestling,” she added. “We had to accommodate all three sports.”

The Hawks dropped their final two matches of the season to the Pacheco Panthers.

“Pacheco was our league champs so we did pretty well against them when we had all of our starters,” Selfridge said. 

The host Hawks lost 3-1 (17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-22) to the Panthers on Senior Night on May 18.

Selfridge recognized upperclassmen Azalia Diaz and Samantha Espinoza prior to the start of the match.

Diaz and Espinoza competed at the varsity level for three and two seasons, respectively.

“Losing both of them is tough,” Selfridge said. “They have different strengths. Azalia is a really good player. She’s very smart on the court. She’s got a killer serve. Sammy is really kind and always positive. She’s someone you want to be around.”

Central Valley suffered a 3-1 (25-9, 25-20, 22-25, 25-7) loss at Pacheco on May 19.

Diaz and Mony Chhoeum did not play because of conflicting schedules.

“I know what we’re capable of,” Selfridge said. “It would have been a different game if we had all of our starters. The girls that were there stepped up.

Allison Stiles
Allison Stiles, pictured with Ceres High volleyball head coach Kelly Heese, suited up for the Bulldogs for the final time on May 19 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium. The Bulldogs will lose two players to graduation, including Stiles and Bethanie Thornberry.