All season long, Bret Harte head volleyball coach Jacey Porovich told her players to be grateful for every day they had together as a team.
That speech started the first day of practice and continued after Bret Harte lost in the semifinals of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. Even though Bret Harte had a strong season with an overall record of 18-7 and a second-place finish in the Mother Lode League, the 2021 season had its difficult moments, and, still, Porovich and her team remained grateful.
“If Covid taught us anything, it taught us to appreciate every day,” Porovich said. “In the sports world, it taught us every day that we get to play or practice our sport because you don’t know when the world might stop. We have a new level of gratitude and appreciation for not only playing the game, but hopefully playing the game with each other.”
When it came to having her players recognized by the other coaches in the league for their outstanding play throughout the year, Bret Harte was rewarded handsomely. The Bullfrogs had four players placed on the first team and two on the second.
While there was not one star on Bret Harte’s roster who shined brighter than the rest, the Bullfrogs took to heart the concept of team play, and that was something that Porovich is most proud of when it comes to her 2021 squad.
“It was reassuring that the coaches in the league respected not only my team, but the individuals who make up my team,” Porovich said. “For them to be able to acknowledge that we didn’t just rely on one, or two, or three, or even four players on a given night and that it was a total team effort, that was exciting.”
Bret Harte’s Jaycee Davey, Cierra Gilbert, Ally Stoy and Aariah Fox were all named as first-team members.
Davey was Bret Harte’s libero and had no problem sacrificing her body to make a play. Davey finished her senior season with 265 digs (4.9 per set), 175 serve receptions, 21 aces and three kills. Davey had 10 or more digs 11 times, which included a career-high 32 in a loss to Sonora.
“I’m not sure if anyone has put in as many hours in and out of the gym working on this game like she has,” Porovich said. “It’s an honor to see that the other coaches rewarded her with a first-team spot.”
Senior setter Cierra Gilbert was the reason why Bret Harte’s hitters were so successful. She finished with 316 assists (six per set), had 32 aces, 91 digs and eight kills. In 1,020 passing attempts, Gilbert only made seven errors. Gilbert had 35 assists in a 3-1 win over Calaveras.
“Cierra is a hard worker and is someone who has grown up around the game and loves this game with all her heart,” Porovich said. “Her hands have gotten cleaner each year with her contacts on the ball and it’s huge for our hitters to have that consistency. She’s another one of my seniors who was exciting to see play this year and leave it on the court.”
One of the benefactors of Gilbert’s passing was Fox. The Bret Harte junior didn’t start out the season on fire, but started to figure things out early in the league season and once that switch was turned on, Fox was one of the most dangerous hitters on the floor. She finished with a team-high 115 kills, 14 blocks, 66 digs and 18 aces. She recorded 10 or more kills seven times, with 15 against Argonaut.
“The shift in Aariah’s game was gaining confidence, and that confidence comes with more contacts,” Porovich said. “She focused on some of her other sports during the spring season, so she missed some of the contacts that the other girls had. It was all about getting all those extra touches and finding the timing and rhythm of the game and once she did, she was definitely exciting to watch.”
Stoy had a solid season, and she could change a game not only with her offensive abilities but also her defensive skills. She had 60 kills, 36 solo blocks and 59 total blocks.
“It’s always fun to watch the seniors really start reaching their potential,” Porovich said. “Ally really came out at the start of the season motivated to work hard and earn her team some points. A lot of what she did was on the defensive side of things with her blocks. She led our team in blocks and was somebody who other teams had to worry about. Seeing her also connected on the offensive end of things and pounding some balls. What you really hope for as a coach is to see your players reach their potential their senior year, and Ally did that.”
Bret Harte senior Trianna Jordan and sophomore Chase Silva made the second team. Jordan finished her Bullfrog career with 48 kills, 28 solo blocks, 51 total blocks and seven aces. Jordan recorded nine kills in a win over Summerville and seven twice against Calaveras.
“She’s one of my seniors who reached her potential,” Porovich said. “She finished the season playing the best that I’ve ever seen her play. She’s really found that love for the game and leaves everything she has on the court, so she can go home with no regrets. She’s pounding balls harder than she ever has and putting up bigger blocks than she ever has. It was neat to see the coaches in the league honor her.”
Silva was one of the players who was part of the short spring season and as a freshman, she found herself on the court. As a sophomore, Silva had moments where she was the best player in the gym. Silva finished with 91 kills, 11 blocks, 85 digs and 10 aces.
“Chase is only going to get better as she continues to grow,” Porovich said. “She came out and was a part of our season as a freshman and earned some playing time and continued to not only be a presence on the court, but owned a spot on the court this year as a sophomore. I look forward to working with her and seeing just how much more we can push her game to the next level over these next two years.”
Senior Sommer Good received the character award. Good had 88 digs, 64 serve receptions, 28 aces and three digs. But it was her attitude that really stood out to Porovich.
“Everybody needs a heartbeat on the team, and Sommer is that for us,” Porovich said. “She’s one of the seniors who’s been around this game and me for many years now. She’s one of the ones who provides energy. When she goes on the court, she’s got energy and is focused. When she’s on the sidelines, she’s just as energetic and supportive of her team. You can’t ask for more when it comes to character.”
Davey, Gilbert, Good, Jordan, Silva, along with Bella Stafford and Kenna Williams made the all-academic team with a 3.70 or higher GPA.