Before every game, the Berkeley High girls volleyball team sets goals for itself.
If any of the goals were to sweep Arroyo and stay undefeated in the West Alameda County Conference, then mission accomplished.
The Yellowjackets (7-3, 3-0 WACC) swept the visiting Dons 25-15, 25-16, 25-17 to stay on top in the WACC's Foothill Division.
"We accomplished some and some we fell short of," said Berkeley coach Lisa Busbee-Young about the team's goals. "Making them write it out makes them hold themselves and each other accountable."
Berkeley players probably didn't list staying in the Bay Area News Group's East Bay top 15 rankings as a goal. But with a perfect start in league play and a recent win over a very good St. Patrick-St. Vincent team, it is certainly a program on the rise.
"I'm really excited about the season," Busbee-Young said. "We've got athleticism and we're gelling right away instead of later in the season."
The Dons (2-5, 1-2) showed flashes of brilliance, the kind of stuff that can keep them in the running for the WACC's Shoreline Division title.
"The team is in development," Arroyo coach William Len said. "They have the ability, and they can strive to get a lot better down the road as long as they don't give up."
Arroyo led early in games one and three, and narrowed the gap in game two, but Berkeley was able to pull away in each game.
Hiring: Former McClymonds High boys
The coach who led the Warriors to a 32-0 season and state championship in 2008 is hoping to lend a hand to the athletics department.
"Hopefully, I can made a difference," Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel retired from coaching after the 2008 season and also is retired from his work for the city of Berkeley. He's always maintained a steady presence on campus since he stopped coaching.
He said he originally turned down the position when McClymonds principal Kevin Taylor first offered it to him. Eventually he committed to one year on the job.
At the time, he didn't realize the chaos going on in the Oakland Athletic League in response to the district's policy requiring student-athletes to be on track to graduate.
The rule requires students to have a certain amount of units in addition to a 2.0 grade-point average. It also makes students who aren't qualified on the first day of school ineligible for the entire school year and doesn't allow for hardship waivers.
"It could be a good rule, but it should've been phased in," Nathaniel said.
The rule is currently being reviewed by the district principals.
-- Jimmy Durkin