Volleyball makes a comeback; setting goals that haven’t been achieved in years


Maria Mendoza

Varsity volleyball at their annual Pink Out game, where they later defeat the Bearcats 3-1.

Olivia Mendoza

After coming back from an incredibly difficult season, the Ayala Bulldogs volleyball team set goals for themselves that have been unattainable for over ten years.

Win league and make it to CIF (California Interscholastic Federation). 

Finishing the season 2-8 last year, the team came back stronger and more ready than ever to prove themselves in the Palomares League. The Bulldogs struggled last season because of their young starting players. As the team consisted mainly of sophomores and juniors, they found it difficult playing against teams full of upperclassmen that have had close to two more years of club experience under their belt. With the need for a faster offense, this experience could only be found with another year of club volleyball. 

While teams across the league lost most of their starting players after graduation, this left Ayala with the upper hand, and a chance to meet their first goal of the year. Easily blowing through Colony, Claremont, and Alta Loma; the Bulldog’s biggest challengers were Bonita and Glendora. Losing to both teams in the first round of the league was bitter sweet. When going up against the Bonita Bearcats a second time, the team needed this win to move on to be one of the top three qualifying teams in the league to go on to CIF. The Bulldogs ended the game winning 3-1. 

“My favorite part of the season was beating Bonita because that was a challenge our team had been trying to face and we finally accomplished it,” junior Neveah Livingston said. “The feeling of winning and running on the court once we hit 25 points on the last set was absolutely amazing and I would love to repeat that moment over and over again.”

After this win, the Bulldogs were sitting in second place within the league. To claim the title, it came down to the final home game against Glendora. However, in order to be champions, Ayala needed to sweep the Tartans in 3 sets. 

The set was point for point, but unfortunately the Bulldogs fell to the undefeated Tartans. They were unable to pull themselves out of the hole, and finished the game 1-3. 

“It was tough to lose and get so close to Ayala winning league since 2007,” junior Bella Emanuele said. “We were hopeful to finally be the team to do it.” 

Regardless of the loss, the Ayala Bulldogs still finished 3rd in the league with a 7-3 record. Falling short of their first goal set at the beginning of the season, they were still able to meet their second goal of competing in CIF. 

While the Bulldogs were swept by the Xavier Saints in the first round, reaching this milestone in itself was something the program had been unable to do for many years. 

Even with big hitters, and a great defense, the Bulldogs struggled to maintain leads they had in the game, which contributed to their loss against others in the league. 

Senior Reilly Melendez said that the hardest part of the season was “being able to dig our team out of holes and still win the game.” 

However, the success of the team can be attributed to the great bond the girls had with each other, something that is rare among high school teams in the country. 

“As a team we worked together to accomplish goals we wanted,” said Emanuele. “Many players have stepped up and contributed to making our team great.” 

Now that the season is over, and many players are off to club, most of the girls find it hard to believe that they will never have the opportunity to play with one another again. 

“It’s really hard for me to know I won’t be playing with the seniors ever again and it’s truly heartbreaking,” said Livingston. “I have played with some of the seniors for years prior to high school season, so it will be a challenge to watch them go off to college in a few months.”