Piedmont boys volleyball earns win over Berkeley

2023 Boys volleyball (left-right): Albert Bellingrath, John Champion, Brayden Day (4), Owen Kelly (22), and Wilson Wong (11)

The Piedmont High School boys volleyball team recorded two wins in three matches, including a potentially-historic win over Berkeley. The Highlanders defeated Berkeley on March 24 in five sets, lost a nonleague match in straight sets to Foothill on March 29, then defeated St. Joseph-Notre Dame in four sets on March 30.

Piedmont is now 10-3 on the season.

The win over the Yellowjackets is believed to be the first for the Highlanders program. Piedmont won at Binks Gymnasium, 22-25, 25-23, 25-16, 24-26, 15-6.

“We started a bit slow,” Highlanders coach Mariah Cardenas said. “I could feel the nerves before the match even started. With the slow start and a first set loss, I switched up my middle blocker, James MaNguyen, to outside and put freshmen Albert Bellingrath for middle. With that adjustment, we took the second set.”

Wilson Wong (11) and Brayden Day

Cardenas said the fourth set saw her team exhibit “a lack of urgency.”

“The boys went into the fifth set aggressive and ready to put up a fight to guarantee the win and they did,” she said. “The boys struggled a bit all around during the duration of the match. We just weren’t connecting as strongly as we usually do.

However, I can always count on the willingness to lay it all on the court.”

Cardenas singled out the back row defense of Owen Kelly, Brayden Day, and Wilson Wong for making several saves. Setter Shunji Higashi also did a good job of running the offense, according to Cardenas.

Torge Kraft had 16 kills, while Wong had 15 and James MaNguyen added 10. Day also had three aces.

John Champion (7)

Foothill, which plays in the large-school East Bay Athletic League, mostly held out with the host Highlanders, winning 25-16, 25-19, 25-20. Higashi missed the match and Piedmont struggled, according to Cardenas.

“The boys did what they could with what we had,” she said. “Our serve receive did great. Our hitting was rough but expected due to our setter being out sick.”

Wong had seven kills and John Champion had six.

The next night, the Highlanders beat St. Joseph-Notre Dame, 25-18, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23. Higashi returned and helped make a difference.

Shunji Higashi (9) sets for James MaNguyen (10)

“Shunji Higashi knows how to play smart and make a not-so-great pass a better set for our hitters to hit and earn the point,” Cardenas said.

Higashi had four aces and Champion had 12 kills. Wong contributed 10 kills.

Piedmont is scheduled to play at Alameda on March 31. The next match on the schedule is at Encinal on April 4.

Photos by Erin Callaghan

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