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Smith, Garcia earn all-conference accolades
Verlis Smith
Verlis Smith (pictured) and Sam Garcia helped lead Ceres High’s boys volleyball team to a 4-0 record during the 2020-21 COVID-shortened season.

Ceres High’s Verlis Smith and Sam Garcia both earned all-league honors during the 2021 COVID-shortened boys volleyball season.

Smith, a junior, and Garcia, a senior, were named to the Western Athletic Conference South Division First Team.

The voting process was completed via email by the WAC’s coaches.

“I gave it my all this year every time we had a game,” said Smith, who also starred in track and field, basketball and football with the Bulldogs. “I was a leader on and off the court. I worked hard.”

Smith and Garcia were rewarded for leading the Bulldogs to a 4-0 record in league play.

Ceres High head coach Darlene Tobler nominated Smith and Garcia for all-conference recognition.

Smith was a WAC honorable-mention selection in the ninth grade.

“I’ve changed drastically since freshman year,” he said. “I’ve upped my game because of my teammates and coach. Tobler helped develop my mental toughness. Your mind has to be different. You can’t remember what you did bad. You got to flush it. Coach Dar pushes you to the next level and also makes it fun.”

A three-year contributor at the varsity level, Garcia helped guide the Bulldogs to a 31-14 overall record and one Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance. Ceres High set two program records in 2019 when it notched 19 victories and finished second overall in the WAC standings (9-3). The Bulldogs would have most likely qualified for the playoffs in 2021 and 2020 but both seasons were cut short because of COVID 19.

Unable to play a full schedule in 2021 due to coronavirus protocols, Ceres High competed against Los Banos four times.

The Bulldogs won all four matches by identical 3-0 scores.

“We’re grateful we had some time together, but sad that it was cut short,” Tobler said. “We had to quarantine twice because of COVID.”

“I wish we would have had a full season,” Smith said. “We would have had a shot at the league title. I’m grateful we were able to play four games. It’s better than nothing.”