SALINAS VALLEY — Both Gonzales Spartans and Greenfield Bruins completed a strong season in volleyball, as each varsity team claimed the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Santa Lucia Division and Arroyo Division titles, respectively.
This was the first volleyball championship for Gonzales since 1996 and the first for long-time Spartans Head Coach Desiree Baltazar.
According to Baltazar, the Gonzales team was based on a strong foundation, including the efforts of returning players Bry Perez at setter; Julissa Aldaco at outside hitter/middle blocker; Rudy Virgen at all-around; and Anissa Sandoval at libero.
“It was a foundation that was laid before Covid,” Baltazar said. “We had a plan to win with seven returning players and then we lost the season because of Covid. Our returning players set the tone, and everyone understood our team goals and fulfilling the individual players goals.”
After dropping the second match to Stevenson, the Lady Spartans had to win their remaining games to earn the Santa Lucia Division title outright — and they did, by beating Trinity Christian in straight sets.
In order to secure a playoff spot, however, Gonzales had to beat Alisal High School in a play-in game. Though the Spartans had a great home crowd to back their team, they fell to Alisal in three sets to one.
The Lady Spartans made the playoffs as the ninth seed in the Division IV bracket, facing the Scotts Valley Falcons from the Santa Cruz League on Saturday. But their season came to an end, as Scotts Valley won in straight sets.
“We went almost a month without losing during the league season and then we won the championship at home before hosting a play-in game and a CCS game,” Baltazar said. “We played against a good rival team (Alisal), and then we played a good Scotts Valley team from a very strong league. We lost the last two games, but our girls had a great record of 11-1 in league and 16-8 overall mark.”
Baltazar was assisted this season by JV Head Coach Margie Perez, Raul Grado and Danny Bravo. The Spartan JVs also had a winning record under the guidance of Perez and Bravo.
Greenfield Bruins Head Coach Adrian Trujillo described this year as a “blueprint year” for the team.
Winning the Arroyo Division outright for the first time in school history and having so many players about to revive league honors was trendsetting for the Lady Bruins volleyball program.
But the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments would have to wait until the offseason, as Greenfield needed to face Santa Catalina in a play-in game to receive an automatic bid for the playoffs. The Lady Bruins got off to a strong start, taking the first set, but Santa Catalina dominated the next three sets, winning in four.
Greenfield ended up being put into the Division III bracket as the 10th seed, facing Del Mar High School of San Jose. After losing three sets to one, the Lady Bruins’ record-breaking season came to an end against Del Mar.
Soledad Aztecs saved the best game for last, upsetting the King City Mustangs in the season finale and snapping a nine-match losing streak.
The Lady Aztecs found their offense against the Lady Mustangs, winning by three sets to two. The last time Soledad won two sets in a match was back on Sept. 22 against Gilroy.
In addition, the last time the Lady Aztecs didn’t win a league game was back in 2016 when they finished 0-13.
King City Mustangs
King City Mustangs knew making the playoffs wasn’t a sure thing, but finishing on a four-match winning streak would have improved their chances.
With the loss to the Soledad Aztecs in their season finale, however, King City had to wait until Thursday to find out if they would make the playoffs. The Lady Mustangs got the call and were placed in the Division III playoffs.
As the ninth seed, King City had to travel to the eighth seed, Westmoor of the Peninsula Ocean League. The Lady Mustangs’ season came to an end when they lost to Westmoor in straight sets.
Michael Ramirez contributed to this article.