Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012
Los Banos volleyball looking ahead to better year
By David Witte / email@example.com
A year ago, the Los Banos High volleyball team's goal was to host a first-round playoff game -- and the Tigers accomplished that goal.
This year's goal?
"We want to host a volleyball playoff game again," junior setter Colleen Allen said. "And not get blown out of the water like last year."
"We'll win this time," added sophomore Jade Fachin. "Or at least compete."
That 2011 season-ending playoff loss to Oakmont was not indicative of how the season went -- the young Tigers split the Western Athletic Conference title with Central Catholic after each went 11-1 in league play.
Now that team is a year older, with Fachin and Mattea Clarke hitting from the outside, Michelle Gutierrez holding down the middle, and Kassandra Gaxiola and Madison Fullington leading the defense.
"You can learn a lot in a year," Fachin said. "Everyone's learned a lot."
Fachin spent a week this summer playing against club competition from all over Europe and the U.S. in a tournament in Croatia, while coach Greg Soliz took the helm of an elite club team in Ripon. Fachin also played for Ripon's under-15 team, while Soliz coached the under-17 squad. Already, the players feel they are benefiting from his extra experience.
"His coaching is very to-the-point," Fachin said. "Detailed, but at the same time very short and sweet."
The end result, according to Fachin, will be faster volleyball.
But for just the third time in Soliz's six-year tenure at LBHS, the Tigers will break in a new setter -- the position that drives the team's offense. Serryna Gonzalez held that position since her sophomore year and graduated last spring.
Allen, who saw some playing time as setter when Gonzalez was out with a leg injury last season, has emerged from a tough competition for the spot. In addition to learning the ins and outs of her position, Allen has had to adjust to hitters she didn't play club volleyball with.
"At first it was really bad, so we've come a long way now," Allen said. "We're really improved from the beginning of the season."
Now that the team has had time to gel in practice, the young squad is ready to attack in Wednesday's Merced College Spike Off scrimmages with confidence.
"I think we're going to surprise Los Banos this year," Fachin said. "I think we're going to do a lot better than people expect us to do."
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org