Heavy Hitters

Girls Volleyball: Campolindo vs. Northgate, Round 1, Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Campolindo.

In this corner we have the Northgate Broncos, who come in with an impressive record of 21-0 and two tournament wins (Wolverine Invitational, Castro Valley Invitational).

In this corner we have the Campolindo Cougars, who come in at 13-3, with all their losses coming at the Durango Tournament in Las Vegas earlier this season where they faced some of the nation’s top volleyball teams. The Cougars also return the exact same team that was four points away from a trip to the Division III state finals.

Are you ready?

The volleyball match many have been waiting for this season is finally here. It’s time to see who’s the best team in the DFAL and maybe even the East Bay.

Both are undefeated in DFAL play this season. Both shared the league title last season. The Broncos, who have won their first 20 matches of 2005, beat the Cougars last season at home, handing Campolindo its first league loss since 1999.

Now, the Cougars start things off on their home floor. Can Carly Lathrop and the Broncos take out Campolindo led by Kristen Kathan? Who do you think is the favorite?


BVAL talk

Check out our discussion board and get in on the talk about BVAL football.  Pittsburg is certainly in the driver’s seat after beating Ygnacio Valley, but there’s still four weeks left in the regular season. Are the Pirates the biggest surprise this season? Or are they a team that will be strong year-in and year-out?


Net Games

For a setter, it’s among the most annoying things an opponent can do, and Liberty High School’s middle blocker Nicole Anderson did it to Carondelet’s Caitlin Luquet during a battle of undefeated teams on Oct. 11.

While on defense, Anderson placed her hands just off the net so that the ball, which plowed into the net on an overpass from the offensive side, would push the net into her hands and make the ball change direction. It’s legal and drives the setter, who’s trying to control the ball off the net, crazy.

The move is supposed to be used as sort of a veteran trick, something that isn’t obvious and can’t be picked up, like a slower defender in basketball grabbing a speedy player’s shorts to keep pace.

In other circumstances, the trick usually draws smiles from all and maybe an "A-ha, you got me" from the opposing team.

But Anderson used the trick (we call it that for lack of another word) at a significant juncture, in a significant game, during a significant match, and so it was significantly magnified.

The rule, according to one coach, states that if a player’s hands are at the net, its OK if the ball pushes the net into the hands, but the player can’t move her hands to create the contact. The referee explained it to a couple of angry parents, motioning with his own hands that if Anderson didn’t push the ball, she could make contact through the net. It seems the debate lies in whether the player makes unintentional contact or just makes it look unintentional?

Luquet was already trying to make a great play by setting the ball off of the net on an arrant pass, now you got someone essentially interfering with the ball on your side of the net. The trick killed Carondelet’s chance to rally and extended the Lions late surge for the win.

So is the "net trick" considered cheating or just a heads up play? On this night, or any other, I guess it depends what side of the net you’re on.


Football poll – halfway point

We’re halfway through the prep football regular season and the teams in the Times top 10 poll shifted just a bit. De La Salle remains No. 1 after posting perhaps its best effort of the season against national power Mission Viejo. Pittsburg breaks into the poll at No. 10 and meets Ygnacio Valley in another key matchup Thursday night at Mt. Diablo. Do you think this game determines the BVAL champion for 2005?


Tough Love

During St. Mary’s five-game loss to Albany on Oct. 4, sophomore Tarah Murrey, an outsider hitter one coach called "the most talented player in Northern California" was hounded by the Albany students sitting in the stands.  Now, it’s not uncommon for the home fans to go berserk on the visiting  team. Heck, it’s expected. But to single out one player? In girls and boys basketball it happens here and there. At a girls volleyball match? — Hadn’t seen it before.
After Murrey made a few uncharacteristic mistakes early, (hitting into the net or out) the blood was in the water and the sharks attacked. They
were quick and unforgiving.
The Cougars’ fans (wanna-be Duke crazies) didn’t hesitate to break out the "OVER-RATED" chant.
After a serve into the net: “OVER-RATED.” After one of her attacks was blocked: “OVER-RATED.”
It wasn’t pretty. In fact, the whole thing made me cringe and it seemed to get in Murrey’s head. That’s just an assumption. She still finished with 14 kills and three aces.
And right before I pulled out my box of Kleenex, I thought to myself, "Why feel sorry for her? They’re actually paying her respect."
Only the best get that type of treatment. I mean, there wasn’t a peep when any of the other Panthers made a mistake.
It’s true. Greatness is held up to such a higher standard (especially on the road against your rival).
Albany and their sophomore phenom Jana Poole gave its home crowd what they wanted with the exciting win. But just before the match, those same fans who tried to ridicule Murrey, watched as she warmed up and pounded the ball with grace and power. After one particular shot, some turned to each other with a look on their face as if to say, “Wow. She’s awesome.” It was like San Francisco Giants fans watching Barry Bonds hit home runs in batting practice. 
Those same fans made it a point to let Murrey hear how they felt whenever she messed up — until the referee, in what was the right move, put an end to it by silencing the chant.
For a fierce competitor, such hoopla should be the ultimate compliment.


Curtis’ forecast

I made up a little bit of ground last week, so I’ll try to keep that going over the next two months. So, without further delay…

(5) Ygnacio Valley over Liberty: The Warriors are looking every bit like BVAL title contenders, and although the Lions have won two straight, it doesn’t appear as if they have enough to win this one.

(4) Alameda over El Cerrito: The Hornets season has gone as such: win, loss, win loss. That pattern continues this week.

(3) Las Lomas over Miramonte: The Miramonte teams of old would have really blown out Northgate and Concord. Las Lomas, meanwhile, is gaining momentum every week.

(2) Foothill over California: The Grizzlies may be a little desperate because their EBAL title hopes would disappear with a loss. But Falcons coach Matt Sweeney hasn’t lost to Cal since the first George Bush was in office.

(1) De La Salle over Mission Viejo: The Diablos have plenty of offensive weapons, but Mark Sanchez was the biggest reason they beat the Spartans last year. With no Sanchez, Mission Viejo may be ripe.

Tie breaker: Berean Christian over CSD.



FRIDAY FORECAST: Shadelands Redemption

Mmmm…humble pie. I finished off a pretty good slice of it last week after going 2-3. But in the end, no harm was done and I’m still trailing by one single-dingle dang ‘ol point.
I have a good chance to get that point back this week, so as the Shawshank Redemption’s Andy DuFresne may have said if he was a fan of the Forecast, "It’s time to get busy pickin’, or get busy dyin’."
Anyway, with that said…
(5) Ygnacio Valley over Liberty: This five-pointer is far from comfortable. The Warriors are certainly on a roll and they’re dominant against the run. However, they could struggle against the passing attack of Lions’ QB Jason Smith. It could be a close one, but I still give the edge to YV.
(4) Alameda over El Cerrito: It’s pretty much how Bill put it. There are just too many things stacked against the Gauchos this week.
(3) Las Lomas over Miramonte: It’s a great, big, huge DFAL game. Both teams are actually very similar. They both have very fast defenses and effective running games. I like the Knights because they are at home.
(2) Mission Viejo over De La Salle: It’s the No. 2 team in the nation playing on its own campus. I know DLS travels well and always steps up in big games, but this just might be an order it can’t fill.
(1) California over Foothill: May Matt Sweeney strike me down, but I think the Grizzlies are too well-coached to let the Monte Vista loss turn into an EBAL losing streak. I would be shocked not to see Cal fire on all cylinders and win this one by at least a touchdown. But then again, I’ve made it my one-point game, so you can tell my confidence is soaring.
SWING GAME — San Ramon Valley over Granada: The Wolves showed me something by pushing Foothill to the limit last week. In comparison, Granada will seem like a walk in the park.


More Forecast

Like so many high school football teams, I need to bounce back from a tough week. After going 2-3 last week, I did some soul-searching. I had to ask myself if I was really invested in the season, or if I was going to just start mailing it in when times got tough.
I took a long hard look in the mirror and decided that I was going to give it all I had, for myself, for my family, for my team. If I lose anyway, well, at least I left it all on the field.
With that said, here are my picks for the week.

(5) Alameda over El Cerrito — I haven’t seen Alameda, but I saw the fact that the Hornets beat what turns out to be a halfway decent Bishop O’Dowd team in Week 1. And, I have seen El Cerrito. Sure, it was in the weird, no-fan game on Monday at De Anza, but that team simply did not look crisp. Throw in the fact that the Gauchos will be playing their second game in five days, and that they’re at Alameda, and I’m taking a flying stab that Alameda’s defense is better than De Anza’s (which still managed six takeaways on Monday), and I’m going with the Hornets.
(4) YV over Liberty — Call me a Warriors homer if you want, but this team is on a solid roll after a crazy hiccup against Clayton Valley in Week 2. They’ve recorded dominant wins over Deer Valley (21-0) and Skyline (35-7) entering the game. The Lions, though, are coming off a thrilling 30-29 come-from-behind win over Carson in Carson City, Nev. in which QB Jason Smith completed 27 of 43 pass attempts for 334 yards. Still, the Lions only rushed for 29 yards in that game, and allowed 168 rushing yards. If the Warriors can put the clamps on Smith, this one could get out of hand.
(3) Las Lomas over Miramonte — The Knights have been the best team in the DFAL since league play started, including a tough win over Alhambra. Despite an easy 29-0 win over Concord last week, the Matadors have yet to really hit their stride. Bet money on the fact that both of these teams will be geeked for this game. I just think the Knights have more horses this time around.
(2) Cal over Foothill — The Grizzlies get Foothill the week after a 34-20 loss at Monte Vista. Welcome to the EBAL! Yeesh. That’s a rough way to start league. The Falcons have been rolling, but I don’t think they’ve faced a team with the kind of crisp offense Cal can bring (when it isn’t pressing, like it did at MV). This one has all the makings of a classic, and I’m sticking with the team I picked to win the league. Of course, I’ve been wrong before…
(1) De La Salle over Mission Viejo — The Diablos are getting a little too big for their britches. I think it’s about time someone knocks them down a peg. Why not the Spartans? DLS played MV basically to a standstill last year, and the Diablos has Mark Sanchez on their side then. This year, the Spartans don’t have to worry about the pass as much, meaning they’ll be geared up to stuff big RB Chane Moline. Look for California’s No. 5 to upset CA No. 1 (and the No. 2 team in the country) in a Southern Cal stunner.

Pittsburg over Deer Valley — The list of truly compelling matchups was kinda slim this week, but I’m going with a surging Pirates squad over the surprisingly rudderless Wolverines. But this one could be interesting, especially if DV figures out a way to get Chris Allen more involved in the offense.