Men’s Volleyball looks forward to rest of season with 4-3 record


Rishvanth (Rishi) Ramesh

Carson Tetik swings back down at an Amador overpass.

Wildcats went down to Amador Valley on March 15, losing in three sets with scores of 25-21, 26-24 and 25-21 (respectively.)

Amador had an early lead, but Dougherty regained momentum after Amador went out and they tied at 3-3. The game remained close for the next few points and they tied at 7-7. But after an impressive block and Dougherty struggling with defense, they built up a four point lead. After a particularly strong shot from Amador, DV struggled to get the ball to the other side and when Gavin Kristic finally sent it over with a backward bump, it landed out of bounds. 

Set two started with two unforced hitting errors by Amador and strong defense by Dougherty, helping the Wildcats maintain an early 7-4 lead. Sindhunandan Udhayakumar got two solo blocks in a row, but Conley called a timeout immediately after the next point at 10-6 when a missed serve ended Dougherty’s two-point run. Right after the timeout, libero William Nguyen made an outstanding one-handed touch to save Dougherty from succumbing to a service ace, and Tetik scored an aggressive swing on the second touch to side out. Both blocks were strong for the next few points, resulting in good rallies, but hitting errors by the Dons and missed serves kept the Wildcat in a three-point lead. 

Kristic and Esteban’s chemistry flew for the next two points as they put up a big double-block against an aggressive Amador swing and Esteban scored a nice fast kill on the second touch after Kristic covered a block deflect. However, faulty defense in the back row and a double called tightened Dougherty’s lead to 17-16. After a centerline violation and hit out by Dougherty, Amador took the lead 18-17. More unforced hitting errors by Dougherty brought the Dons to a three-point lead and forced the Wildcats to call their second timeout of the set. 

“We have these runs of four or five points and then we lose three to seven points. We need to be more consistent and pass the ball well,” Conley said. 

The ball went back and forth after nice swings on both sides, and a smart roll shot by Krauss brought the score to 23-22. A successful tip by Daveynis tied the teams, and Amador finally called their first timeout at 24-23 after they committed an unforced error. In overtime, Udhayakumar took a hard swing, but unfortunately got shut down by the Dons’ block, closing out the set 26-24. 

In set three, Amador’s outside Nate Clinton dominated early on with four kills straight down, bringing the Dons ahead with a score of 7-4.

“[Clinton] was a good hitter and [Amador] was running really quick sets to the outside,” Conley said. “We have to make sure that the pin recognizes that faster set and moves in to take that one-on-one with the other hitter.”

 Dougherty finally sided out after Clinton served out, and caught up 9-8 after a nice block down by Tetik and Daveynis and a high swing over the block by Kristic. Dougherty continued to put forward a strong defensive effort, but another strong kill by Clinton solidified Amador’s lead 14-11. Kristic scored a kill off the block, but a fumbled defensive play and another swing out returned the ball to the Dons. However, Amador served and swung into the net on consecutive points, bringing the score to 23-19 and giving Dougherty a chance to catch up. Another service error by Amador and a solo block by Esteban brought the Wildcats within two-points of the Dons’ lead, but a service error by Kristic helped Amador reach game point at 24-21. Udhayakumar took two great swings in the last rally, but was shut down once again by the Dons’ block without defensive cover, ending the set 25-21. 

Regarding Amador’s strengths, Udhayakumar pointed to their communication outside the school court as a big reason for their ability to take control of the game. “A lot of the players on the team play outside together on club, which makes them a better, cohesive team overall,” Udhayakumar said. 

In addition to the need to improve on serving, Conley noted that team injuries and illnesses factored into the Wildcats’ struggle, referencing Esteban’s absence from the first game and Tsao’s recent injury at practice that put him out of Amador’s game. 

“We need a strong starting six and a supporting cast,” Conley said. “I think that we’re a stronger team than what we show on the court, I just have to figure out a way to pull that out of them.”

I’ve known these guys since they were freshmen and they have gone up with me, with the exception of the COVID year, which was a little crazy for everybody. I’ve seen these guys come in when they started, I’ll see them finish. This is what a program is.

Dougherty was able to prove Conley’s faith in them the next week, when they beat California High School 3-0, going 25-11, 25-19 and 25-18. 

The game started late, as junior varsity played overtime fighting for their 3-2 win. When the first set finally began, it signaled good things to come for Dougherty Valley. CHS struggled to respond to Gavin Kristic’s serves, netting the first and swinging the second out of bounds. They managed to score the third point of the game by bumping the ball right into a seam in DV’s defense, but Dougherty immediately sided out with a spike from Marco Esteban. Ethan Tsao’s sevres scored five points in a row, capitalizing on CHS’s weak defense. The Grizzlies began to catch up after a DV hold and out of bound serve. But Dougherty soon caught up after great passing between Sindhunandan Udhayakumar and Alexander Daveynis, and Wildcats regained their eight point lead. After a sequence of unreturned serves from Kristic, Dougherty accumulated more points and the game ended with consecutive spikes from Esteban, with a final score of 25-11. 

The second set had a similarly auspicious start, with Dougherty quickly building a three point lead. But Grizzlies caught up as Dougherty missed serves, fouled and bumped the ball out of bound. Tied at 8-8, the game became more competitive as the teams scored one after another. Both teams struggled with defense, allowing the other to score aces and sending the ball out of bounds, maintaining the competitive game all the way to 14-14. Dougherty gained the advantage after a powerful spike from Kristic. CHS bumped the ball into a hole of DV’s defense, prompting a time out at 18-16. After the time out, the momentum of the game shifted as Dougherty built back their lead. A clean tip from Esteban, ace from Carson Tetik and spike from Kristic helped carry Dougherty to a final score of 25-19. 

The third and final set was a similarly overwhelming win, with Dougherty coming into an immediate lead with three consecutive aces from Kristic. Kristic then served out of bounds, but Dougherty regained control of the ball soon after when Esteban tipped the ball past CHS’s defense and kept their three point lead. The Grizzlies’ struggle in returning serves continued as Udhayakumar scored another ace, and Wildcats eventually accumulated a seven point lead. Dougherty continued to capitalize on CHS’s slow defense and are able to end the set 25-18, securing their final score of 3-0. 

“I’ve known these guys since they were freshmen and they have gone up with me, with the exception of the COVID year, which was a little crazy for everybody. I’ve seen these guys come in when they started, I’ll see them finish. This is what a program is,” Conley said.