Bret Harte head volleyball coach Jacey Porovich has made the statement a number of times that it is very difficult to beat a team three times in a season. With the final third of the Mother Lode League season underway, Bret Harte would like to win its remaining games in order to get a better seeding come playoff time.
In order to finish the regular season without another loss to their name, the Bullfrogs would have to beat four teams for the third time this year. Bret Harte began that stretch on Tuesday by beating the Argonaut Mustangs in three sets (25-11, 25-9 and 25-17) at Bob Bach Gym in Angels Camp. Argonaut is the first Mother Lode League team that Bret Harte has beaten three times this season.
“It’s difficult to beat any team three times,” Porovich said. “If you’ve beaten them twice already, it’s hard to come in and maintain that energy to take care of business. It was nice to have a game like this to have fun and play the game that we love.”
Of the remaining three matches, Bret Harte only plays one team with a winning record and that’s Calaveras. Argonaut is a squad that had just three MLL wins heading into Tuesday’s match, so the Bullfrogs were the favorites. On night’s where Porovich feels her team is capable of picking up a win without much coaching, she gives them the opportunity to prove what they can do when things are good, and when things don’t go their way.
Tuesday was one of those nights where Porovich took a seat on the bench and allowed her players to have fun and figure things out on the fly.
“My coaching philosophy usually includes coaching at practice and then let the girls show me come game time what they’ve learned or what they know,” Porovich said. “In those bigger games where there’s more on the line, sometimes adjustments are forced and I need to address those things. A game like this, where we feel confident and we know we are in control of the pace of the game, I can sit back and give them a little bit more room to play.”
The Bullfrogs were without a number of players, so Porovich had to get a little creative with her lineup. Junior Kenna Williams was one of the players who was featured a little more than usual and she had no problem rising to the occasion. Williams finished with a game-high 14 kills.
“I definitely enjoyed it,” Williams said about being more active on the offensive side. “I was playing on the outside because we were missing some players tonight, but I enjoyed it.”
When asked about Williams’ performance against Argonaut, Porovich said, “It’s been fun to see Kenna in some different roles on the court and to see her put balls away. Her presence on the court is something that her teammates can rely on.”
Williams and the Bullfrogs jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead in the opening set and never looked back. With an 18-10 advantage, Bret Harte ended things with a 7-1 run to take the first set 25-11.
Just like in the first set, the Bullfrogs started the second set by going ahead 8-1. Williams, junior Melana Wakefield, senior Jaycee Davey, sophomore Chase Silva and junior Avila Pryor all recorded kills in the 25-9 win.
Senior Cierra Gilbert recorded a serving ace to begin the third set, but unlike the previous two sets, the Bullfrogs were unable to jump out to an 8-1 lead. Argonaut stayed close to Bret Harte for much of the set and even cut the Bullfrog lead to 20-17. But Bret Harte senior Ally Stoy recorded three kills in a row and the Bullfrogs took the final set 25-17.
“The girls did well tonight,” Porovich said. “The smiles on their faces showed it and they enjoyed playing the game tonight.”
Williams finished the night with 14 kills and one dig; Ashlin Arias was 7 for 7 serving with one ace and had seven digs; Silva had one ace, seven kills and six digs; junior Bella Stafford had one ace, one kill and was 27 for 28 passing with 10 assists; Gilbert had one ace and was 43 for 43 passing with 16 assists; Pryor had two aces and six digs; Wakefield had three kills; Stoy had seven kills, one block and one dig; senior Trianna Jordan had four kills; and Davey had two aces and six digs.
Bret Harte still has a one-game lead over Calaveras for second place in the Mother Lode League and that could grow to two if Calaveras falls to Sonora and the Bullfrogs beat Amador on Thursday. With each win Bret Harte can capture, a better spot in the playoffs is the reward. And with the playoffs beginning in only a few weeks, it’s hard for the Bret Harte players to not start thinking about the postseason.
“I think we are all counting down the days for the playoffs to start,” Williams said. “For a lot of the juniors, we’ve never been to the playoffs and we aren’t sure what to expect and we are really excited about it. But I’m still focusing more now on the games we still have to play, rather than on the playoffs.”
Bret Harte will host Amador at 6 p.m., Thursday in Angels Camp for senior night.