Late in the second set of last Friday’s match, Kevin Kramer sat quietly on a chair and stared ahead. The Gavilan College women’s volleyball coach was rather comfortable, with the Rams in total control of the match. Gavilan’s three-game sweep of Ohlone of Fremont—game scores were 25-20, 25-18, 25-12—represented an accurate picture of the team’s season in that it has made short work of the majority of its opponents this season.
The win improved Gavilan’s record to 20-1 overall and 5-0 in Coast Conference play. Out of its 20 victories, 14 have come in three game sweeps. Now that’s what you call domination.
“Sometimes we get better competition in practice than in games,” said sophomore middle Camille Finley, a former San Benito High standout. “That’s what makes being on this team fun. It’s been a great experience playing with a fun group of girls.”
It helps that the Rams are loaded in talent and depth, going at least two deep at every single position. Often times when coaches say starting spots are open for competition during the season, they simply are looking to keep their starters from getting complacent. However, when Kramer says players are battling for starting roles in practice, he has the luxury of meaning it because the next player in line is good enough to start for most other teams.
“The nice thing about having a bunch of good players is you can go to somebody else to get the job done if someone is struggling or if you’re dealing with injuries,” Kramer said.
If the Rams can stay healthy, they’ll have an excellent chance to go down as the greatest team in program history. Two years after advancing to the California Community College State Final Eight Championships, Gavilan is poised to do it again this season with arguably its greatest assembly of talent ever.
“The girls have been working extremely hard on that (chemistry) and you can see it they’re here to win, compete and move on,” Kramer said. “Those three things kind of trump everything else right now.”
Translation: The Rams mean business. Against a solid Ohlone team that came into the match undefeated in conference action, the Rams were clearly on another level. The Renegades kept things close in the first set before Gavilan steamrolled the home side in the final two games.
In Game 2, Gavilan displayed its impressive skill set and determination. With the game tied at 6-6, Charlotte Cannizzaro, a 6-foot-1 freshman outside hitter, went up for an attack on the left side. However, the set was a bit off and Cannizzaro had to adjust in mid-air as the ball sailed over her head.
No matter. Cannizzaro did her best Gumby impression and reached back at full extension and somehow getting enough on the ball while hitting it from her sideline to the Ohlone sideline, a crosscourt shot that defied description. Midway through the game, the Rams were involved in a long rally, which Teresa Ochoa punctuated with a kill.
Finley had two blocks during the point and Mikeila Banda produced an incredible dig to set up Ochoa’s winning attack. Finley was a force at the net, recording four solo blocks in the final two games. Lexi Chavarria, another former San Benito High standout, had seven kills in the final two games.
Evelyn Clonts, a former Gilroy High standout, also looked strong with several strong kills and blocks. Kieley Hoskins (San Benito) has been a difference-maker at setter, running the offense with precision. Sarah Weiby, a sophomore opposite out of Gilroy High, played with Clonts in high school and has seen Clonts develop into a tour de force.
“She’s gotten so much better since high school it’s insane,” Weiby said. “The great thing about playing here is if you put the work in, you’re going to improve. I’ve improved a lot and noticed the difference in my attacking because I’m a lot more aggressive and able to put balls down more.”
Injuries are the biggest concern for the team right now. Players’ joints take a pounding as they constantly jump up and down on the hardwood, so Kramer said the biggest goal currently is to have everyone healthy and up and running within the next week. Gavilan’s only loss of the season came in a Sept. 26 match against Cabrillo, the premier program in Northern California that has not lost to a North team since 2009. The last team to beat Cabrillo? None other than Gavilan. Kramer said the loss to Cabrillo served a purpose.
“I don’t know if there ever is a good loss, but it was a good moment for us to take something out of that,” he said. “Cabrillo played a great match and it opened our eyes to remind us we better come to work everyday and get better.”
It’s a good thing the Rams have intense and competitive practices because they’re not likely to receive much of it the rest of the way in conference play.
“We just have to remember anything can happen,” Finley said. “We jhave to be on our game, have fun and go with it.”
Chemistry in the college game remains paramount, a crucial ingredient for any team with state championship aspirations.
“It’s really exciting to play on the court because we all play for each other,” Weiby said. “If any of us are not on, we’re there to pick each other up. … Our main goal is to get to the state championships and win. Just being on this team, it makes school life and all the hours we put in worth it.”