Women stunned in NCS quarterfinals


Anthony Austria

Senior Ellie Dutcher, left, gets her shot blocked by a James Logan player in Cal's five-set loss in the NCS quarterfinals on Nov. 2. Despite holding a 2-1 lead, the No. 3 seeded Grizzlies couldn't hold on against No. 6 James Logan, losing the last two sets to fall 3-2.

The Grizzlies’ season came to an abrupt halt on Nov. 2 as one of the top volleyball teams in the section was upset in five sets by James Logan in the NCS quarterfinals. 

James Logan won the first set 25-17, before the Grizzlies won the second set 25-22 and the third set 25-20. But James Logan started its comeback in the fourth set, winning 25-22, before claiming  the final set 15-11 to knock off the third seeded Grizzlies. 

No. 6 James Logan moved on to the semifinals and lost to No. 2 Campolindo, one of four teams to beat Cal (31-4) all season. Campolindo faces top seed Bishop O’Dowd for the title. 

“The pressure was felt and we were too focused on mistakes, but it was mainly the pressure that started the comeback,” senior captain Sofia Aguilera said. 

The Grizzlies said they were focusing too much on their mistakes, which led to James Logan reversing the momentum in the fourth set. 

“James Logan is a strong team and they took advantage in the moment,” Aguilera said. 

Anthony Austria
Senior captain Satie Peete prepares to serve the ball against James Logan.

Although disappointed by their brief NCS run, the Grizzlies had an amazing season. Cal was still ranked  42nd in the state after its loss to James Logan, which is ranked 86th.

“The emotion rushed back to freshman year being on varsity, all the hours put in, and just reminiscing on the good times,” Aguilera said after her final game. “My favorite moment was beating Monte Vista for the EBAL championship.”

Aguilera believes this Grizzlies squad will go down as one of the best squads in school history.

Facing lofty expectations after a successful season last year, the team more then met their standards.

The Grizzlies defeated Pittsburg in the first round of the NCS playoffs on Oct. 29. Cal swept Pittsburg in three sets and never trailed in the  game. The Grizzlies won the first set 25-13, the second set 25-7, and the third and final set 25-14.  

While the season ended in disappointment, it was still a memorable one. The team finished the regular season 30-3 overall and beat rival Monte Vista on Oct. 22 for the EBAL championship. 

“It was the most important game of the season,” senior captain Sadie Peete said. “It was for the EBAL title. It was the first seed [Cal] vs the second seed [Monte Vista].”

Cal fell into trouble early in the game against Monte  Vista when their starting setter and team captain, sophomore Payton Lee, got injured. 

“With [Lee] being out, it was a chance for us to face adversity and we became stronger and more united as a team,”  senior captain Juliana Bronzini said.

After beating Monte Vista and clinching the EBAL title, the Grizzlies officially finished their regular season on Oct. 24 by losing to Carondelet. 

After losing their head coach Todd Baham near the end of the season, Brian Long, previously the JV coach, stepped into the role.

“ It’s been hectic transitioning into a new role,” Long said. “There’s been a lot to learn.”

Amidst the change and the end of the regular season, the team embraced their situation and all rallied around Long.

“Brian is a great coach and our goals are still the same,” Bronzini said before NCS. “We still are putting in the work to be the best we can and play hard.” 

Throughout the year, the team has played with intensity and unity.

“This is a very tight knit group,” Long said. “I imagine them like 15 sisters, all with unique personalities.”

Next year, the team will have to adjust to a new array of incoming players. More than half of the team will be different next season as nine of the 16 players  are seniors and will graduate. This includes captains Bronzini, Peete, and Aguilera.

While the team may have come up short of their loftygoals, it shouldn’t take away from the amazing season they had. There’s no question that the team will return next year with even more drive and motivation.