Blue collar volleyball for the Jets-set

Some years ago, a volleyball publication ran a story about the sport’s appeal as an after-work activity for urban factory workers in the early decades of the 20th century.

Fast forward to the present, and high school boys volleyball is a hit-and-miss proposition throughout Northern California. Yeah, some large-enrollment schools – – especially well-heeled ones – – can dominate their leagues. Some players here and there even get college scholarships. The Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League, however, is more a throwback to volleyball’s blue-collar roots. While the ACCAL might not produce many – – if any – – Division I college players, many of the games will please the average fan.

Encinal High School’s island derby with crosstown archrival Alameda at the Hornets Nest on March 20 serves as a case in point. Encinal won 25-12, 25-20, 25-12; and true, Alameda was short four players, including a starting setter and hitter, who sat out for undisclosed reasons. But that’s not to take away from Encinal’s effort. There was flow. There was style. There was synergy. There was enthusiasm. And there was a distinct feel for the game among the experienced Jets, who have 10 seniors on their roster. Oh, and the Jets’ Hawaiian floral-print trunks add a sense of fashion, too.

Volleyball is a second sport for a lot of guys. Often, teams reflect this reality. Encinal middle hitter Jason Silsdorf offers a refreshing exception. An All-ACCAL basketball player as Encinal’s center in the winter, Silsdorf looks very much at ease in the middle of volleyball coach Chris Bautista’s frontcourt. The senior is not a bad server, either. Could it be that Silsdorf actually is a volleyball player who doubles as a basketball player?

Volleyball, of course, is a team game, and the Jets are not only about one player. Fact is, frontline play is an overall team strength. Aaron Wang (a match-high 11 kills against Alameda) and Ryan Perdiguerra would be welcome additions to most any team. And Kamaka Baculpo brings an added presence off the bench.

As for setting, Steve North gave 16 assists against the Hornets. And libero Mervin Arquero was a strong presence in the back row, as were Melvin Arquero and Francisco Cano.

Encinal’s primary team color is blue. Fittingly, the Jets are a throwback to blue-collar volleyball.  And if one match tells a story, such a level and style of play are pretty darn good. Division I prospects or not, it’s volleyball well worth seeing.


  • Nice props for Encinal but it is in a backhanded use as Mr. MeGreehan tries again to sell his stilted view of boys volleyball. It might be a fair analysis if he realized that cities of Alameda, Berkeley and Richmond DO NOT remotely represent all of NORTHERN CALIFORNIA volleyball. To think so is a very ‘Berkeley’…but it just Ain’t so…in boys volleyball.
    Perhaps Mike doesn’t realize that even 4 Other Bay Area LEAGUES are hardly ALL of NorCal volleyball. But the MVAL, EBAL, DFAL and DVAL are ALL easily superior to the ACCAL teams of which he is familiar. Half of their JVs would stomp most ACCAL teams. These good leagues don’t even speak to futher NorCal areas like San Jose, Sacramento and Fresno where the level of boys volleyball is higher yet. When this was pointed out to Mike last year he stated that Walnut Creek and the Pennisula were were “too far away” for him to evaluate.
    So why does he insist on speaking for “Northern Callifornia”?.
    Maybe the problem is his geography. This correspondent would be happy to offer a map and ticket to the May NCS tournament (the ACCAL rep is typically one and done)….so Mike can get real.

  • Encinal to their credit has ventured out (& up) to play in the Chico Tournament where leagues from all around NorCal are represented. They are playing in the morning pool with a second tier BVAL team, then the host team Chico (is that North.Calif enough?) and Valley Christian of the West Bay’s WCAL. You can bet the ranch on VC. The others will hopefully be more competitive.

    PS. a Dontrelle Willis fan

  • luke

    what about deanza? there undefeated (6-0)and beat encinal in 4 sets you should write an article on them.

  • Contra Costa Times Prep Sports Staff

    Unfortunately, I have not been able to see De Anza yet this year. From a spectator’s view, are the Dons a pleasure to watch? Maybe you can fill in some of the details.

  • Luke

    Yes they are !
    They just recently defeated Alameda 25-6, 25-12, 25-17. They have great finesse and are really fun to watch. Their intensity has brought them to an undefeated streak of 7-0. Their libero Saephan dives like crazy for balls, their setter Park averages 20 assists per game, their middle Lipscomb averages 12 kills a game and dominates the net. They are even one of the shortest teams in the league, averaging about 5’7 in height! But their leaping ability makes up for it. Recently they were in a tournament and hung in with top NCS Division 4 teams, like College Prep and Drake, taking 1 set from each of them in best of 3’s, and even in the other sets they were close.
    De Anza has been overlooked for many years, and they are being looked down on. People should watch this great team play as they go for a repeat of the ACCAL title.

  • Scott

    De Anza just got demolished by Berkeley High School.