NOTE-Complete All-State Tournament Team at end of release
Courtesy of Robert Lewis - CCCSIA
(Woodland Hills)--The top three seeds from the South region at the CCCAA State Women's Volleyball Championship learned what the Central Valley Conference had known all season--Fresno City College doesn't lose sets, let alone matches. The Rams went a perfect 48-0 in set wins over eight conference opponents in a 16-0 run to the CVC title. On Sunday, the Rams completed a monster 9-0 trip through the South and captured Fresno's first-ever state title, sweeping tourney host Pierce, 25-20, 25-23, 26-24, in the championship match.
Fresno finished a 30-1 season, losing only to Cabrillo at the early-season Delta Classic finals, and won 90 of 99 sets played in the 2016 season. On Saturday, the North No. 2 seed Rams swept South 3 Cypress in the quarterfinals, then shocked state No. 1-ranked Grossmont in the semifinals in three sets. Fresno, directed by first-year head coach Kieran Roblee, won a ridiculous 53 of its final 54 sets dating back to Sept. 24. It's only blemish was a set loss to Feather River in a 4-set victory over the Golden Eagles in the second round of NorCal Regionals.
It was No. 2-ranked Pierce's turn to get the Rams treatment in the finals as tourney MVP Jenna Goldsberry played near flawless volleyball. Goldsberry pounded 19 kills in 36 attempts with just one error for a .500 kill percentage and added a team-best 14 digs in a champion performance.
Goldsberry scored six kills in the opening set as the teams traded 10 ties until Fresno pulled ahead 15-14. A combined block by Shanea Laird and Makayla Cervantes capped a 5-point set victory. In set 2, Pierce trailed 23-19, but trimmed it to 23-22. Goldsberry promptly ripped a kill and then powered an attempt off two Brahmas' blockers for game point and a 2-0 Rams' sets lead.
In the final set, Pierce appeared to have the momentum with a 23-19 lead, but Riley Winden and Kylei O'Keefe combined for two wall blocks and Winden's drop shot landed for a kill and a 25-24 Fresno lead. After a Pierce attack went wide, Fresno's players stormed the court in celebration of a title victory.
"From the early part of the season, I felt that it was important that myself and my assistant coaching staff use a calm, composed approach with the players," Roblee said. "I didn't want to show my emotions and then see the players react that way on the court. All season, we were a team that was composed and played steady. Even when we got down in the third set against Pierce, I just told them to take a breath, relax, and just go back out there and play volleyball."
Cervantes, an All-State Tourney selection, was motivated by a statement made prior to the state tourney.
"Tom Black, an assistant coach for the U.S. Women's Olympic Team, said that it's important to play every point as if it were life or death," Cervantes said. "We took that approach and really went after it on every point here at state."
Pierce head coach Nabil Mardini said it hurt to be the state runner-up now in two straight seasons. His teams won three consecutive state titles from 2010-2012.
"It stings to get this far, and not win," Mardini said. "Fresno did to us what we had done to others all season. They served and passed better than us, and they blocked better. We made some changes in that third set and we got ahead late, but we just couldn't close it out. Regardless, to make it to the state final is no easy feat. It's very difficult to get here."
Goldsberry echoed some comments made by her coaches and teammates.
"We were a team that came together early on. We were told constantly about staying cool, calm and composed. That's the mindset we took. We have a pretty close-knit fan base up in Fresno so it was kind of nice to see them come down here to Pierce and root us on."
All-State Tourney choice Breanne Dubberke added 10 digs for Fresno and Winden chipped in seven kills and three blocks. For Pierce (30-4), All-Tourney selections included Cassidy Rosso, who powered 13 kills, Peyton Moyles, who totaled 34 assists, three kills and two aces, and Kamala Lovick, who had 10 digs.
Roblee talked about how the team didn't get fazed by the big stage of the state tourney.
"Most of our players were from schools in the Clovis/Fresno district and played in packed gyms against each other in really competitive high school matches. They already experienced playing matches like this in the Central Valley. Nothing bothered them."
In a bit of a changing of the guard, the North now has won three of the last four state titles (Cabrillo in 2013 and 2015) and two in a row. Fresno finished on a school record 23-match win streak and accomplished 26 sweeps overall.
2016 ALL-CCCAA STATE TOURNAMENT TEAM
MVP-Jenna Goldsberry, So. OH, Fresno City
Makayla Cervantes, Fr. OH, Fresno City
Breanne Dubberke, So. DS, Fresno City
Cassidy Rosso, Fr. OH, Pierce
Peyton Moyles, So. Setter, Pierce
Kamala Lovick So. Libero, Pierce
Taylor Brydon, So. OH, El Camino
Gionni Brown, So. Libero, Grossmont
Erica Chapa, So. Setter, Gavilan
Rockelle Gholson, So. OH, Cypress
*Natalie Picone, So. OH, Cabrillo
Ally Wubben, Fr. Setter, Sierra
*-2-time selection, also in 2015
Recaps of the CCCAA State Tournament by Robert Lewis, CCCWVCA SID
Photograpy by Richard Quinton
Tourney Statistician, Chris Huerta, STATT LLC