Jolly a humble leader in Sacred Heart’s title hopes

Gabrielle Jolly entered Sacred Heart Cathedral three years ago with a modest goal of making the freshman girls’ volleyball team.

That lasted all of about two months.

Now a junior, the 5-foot-10 middle hitter was called up to the varsity early in her first year at the Cathedral Hill school and has stood in the center of the Irish’s success ever since. Sacred Heart (30-9) has already won this year’s Central Coast Section championship and could capture its first NorCal title since 2004 when it faces St. Mary’s of Stockton at Chavez High in Stockton in today’s 7 p.m. Division III final.

“In that first year, all I really wanted to do was make the freshman team,” Jolly said. “But then I got called up and the spark just went off. I knew I could do this.”

Jolly has since demonstrated that fact to the West Catholic Athletic League, leading the conference this season in total kills (75) and ranking in the top five in blocks (19). She had 14 kills and six blocks in Sacred Heart’s sweep of Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland in the NorCal semifinal and her combination of height, athleticism, jumping prowess and the ability to powerfully put away points make her a certain Division I college prospect according to fifth-year Irish coach Margi Beima.

“She’s a very, very humble kid, but she can really dominate at the net when she’s on,” Beima said. “She might not be the biggest middle, but she has great hands and great skills all over the court. And even though she’s a superstar, she’s all about the team.”

And after admittedly staying in the background as a freshman, Jolly has slowly emerged alongside hitter Nicole Yap to become statistical and emotional leaders on a youthful Sacred Heart team. Despite starting a freshman setter (Sidney Chuckuntarod) and two sophomores, the Irish have managed to be at their best at the most important times. Sacred Heart has won 12 of its last 13 matches entering tonight’s final against the top-seeded Rams (28-7), with only two of those requiring even a fourth game.

The No. 2 Irish swept both Union Mine of El Dorado and Bishop O’Dowd on their way to the final and will seek a measure of revenge tonight against a St. Mary’s team that knocked them out in the first round of last year’s NorCal tournament.

“We don’t look at it as there being any pressure on us — we play because we love the game,” Jolly said. “And I don’t think any of us are ready for our season to end.”

melliser@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Legal challenge halts SFPD jurisdiction over dog attacks on federal land

Dog owners beware — canine attacks are now consequence-free on federal land… Continue reading

49ers battle with the Saints lives up to its billing

Kittle’s 39-yard catch-and-run had placed San Francisco in prime position for a game-winning field goal as the 49ers trailed 46-45

SF police shoot burglary suspect in Mission District

Man allegedly attacked officers before being shot in first on-duty SFPD shooting since June 2018

Not even heavy rain can stop the 25th annual SantaCon

Jolly, drunken fun event for Santas is the ‘least wonderful time of the year’ for many locals

Ronen says $100M service expansion is ‘going to fix’ SF’s mental health crisis

Compromise mental health plan has backing of mayor, full Board of Supervisors

Most Read