Girls Prep Volleyball Previews – 2008

DOS PUEBLOS CHARGERS

COACH: Dwayne Hauschild

SEASON OUTLOOK: Santa Barbara High coach John Gannon says that Dos Pueblos is the team to beat in the Channel League this year, but Chargers coach Dwayne Hauschild won’t jump to any conclusions. “My good friend John is just deflecting. His team is stacked again. Mind you we’re going to be pretty good, but it’s going to be another knock-down, drag-out season to try and win this thing,” he said. DP has some darn good players. Energetic senior Caitlin Racich is committed to play for Pepperdine next year. Setters Paige Crane and Sami Brown have experience running the offense and actually led the team in kills during some matches in this summer’s Kauai Invitational (which the Chargers won). They’ve also participated in USA Volleyball’s High-Performance program. Then there’s Carly Wopat, who was selected to play on USA Volleyball’s Youth National Team, which consists of the top 12 players in the country. That’s a level that hasn’t been reached by any girls player that Gannon or Hauschild can remember. Her twin, Samantha Wopat, competed in the USA High Performance Championships in the international juniors division (top 36 in the country for her age-group) last summer.  “It’s also the supporting cast. All the girls have stepped up in practice ten-fold. It’s really become a team effort. We have girls with a lot of accolades but everyone is ready to compete,” he said. The Chargers lost Kati Cattaneo from last year’s team, who moved on to USC and has worked her way into a one-year scholarship as a libero on the No. 5 team in the country. But nearly everyone else is back, and DP should be in for a great season.

SANTA BARBARA DONS

COACH: John Gannon

SEASON OUTLOOK: There’s a lot missing from last year’s CIF-semifinalist Santa Barbara High team. Two-time County Player of the Year Kristen Dealy, standout middle blocker Annie Villanueva and left-handed hammer Eva Gabrielsen have all graduated, but coach John Gannon still has plenty of talent and athleticism to work with. “I think for us, our biggest concern is a lack of experience, but our biggest strength is athleticism,” said Gannon. “We’re maybe even a little more athletic than last year as far as quickness and jumping ability.” There is experience in some of the key places, however. All-Channel League first-team setter Natalie Guerra returns for her senior campaign, while junior Madison Hamilton is back for her third year as a starter in the middle. Katherine Keller was a first-teamer at libero last year and will once again anchor the team’s passing and defense. Emily Rottman — who’s found success on the beach with a berth in the CBVA State Championships — will help to replace some of the firepower lost from 2007, and senior Mimi Cutrell will be looked upon to provide emotional leadership for the Dons. Santa Barbara kicks things off against a tough Harvard-Westlake team on September 11th and follows it up with Santa Margarita on the very next day. The Dons will head to the prestigious Archbishop Mitty tournament at the end of the month to try and defend last year’s title, and will host the annual Tournament of Champions just before Halloween. “We’re not looking down the road. What we have to do with this group is just focus on the match right ahead of us and take it one at a time” said Gannon.

SAN MARCOS ROYALS

COACH: Roger Kuntz

SEASON OUTLOOK: Four returning starters, considerable size in the middle and improved passing have coach Roger Kuntz fired up about this year’s Royals team. Kuntz and Co. took a summer trip to Hawaii for the Ann Kang Iolani Summer Tournament, which included powerhouse teams like Mira Costa and Redondo Union. An 11th-place showing out of 20 teams was certainly a good showing considering the company. Six-foot senior Jenn Waddill is back at the middle blocker position and is complemented by 6-foot-1 junior Grace Conners, who was a standout on the JV squad last season. Kristen Kuntz, a first team All-Channel League selection, will run the offense once more at the setter position. She’s got the experience, having started every varsity match of her high school career. Senior Kristin Schroeder and outside hitter Flo Chardon join Kuntz and Waddill as returning starters. San Marcos posted a 16-13 record last year, and coach Kuntz hopes that improved passing this season will lead to more offense being run through the middle. He credits assistant coach Steve Lough with much of the team’s offseason improvement in ball control. “Our team’s goal is to reach the playoffs and improve on last year’s second round finish,” said Kuntz.

LAGUNA BLANCA OWLS

COACH: Jim Alzina

SEASON OUTLOOK: The Owls have five seniors and a heap of talent returning from last year’s CIF-finalist squad. Taking over for longtime coach Jason Donnelly, who left to coach at Rutgers University, is Jim Alzina. Alzina has nine returners back from last year’s team, and will look to veteran seniors Jenn Murphy and Katie Borden for leadership on the court. Junior Jackie Harvey showed star potential as a sophomore last season and will be a big offensive threat as a junior. Other seniors on the team are Annie Varni, Monica Beltran and Katherine Cronyn. As for the team’s key players, Alzina put it plain and simple: “All of them.”

CARPINTERIA WARRIORS

COACH: Katie Dolge

SEASON OUTLOOK: Last year’s fifth-place finish in the Tri-Valley League is something that Katie Dolge’s Warriors want to forget about, and Dolge says that her team has the tools to make a big push in league this year. “I expect the season to go well. We’ve got a strong group of athletes, and they’re really maturing on the court… I believe my girls have a chance to upset some teams this year,” said Dolge. Setter Hannah Denitz is back again to lead the team as a senior, and junior outside hitter Kelci Jones’ swing is looking solid in practice, according to Dolge. Senior Jaclyn Guerrero will anchor the back row and stabilize the Warriors’ passing. With crosstown-rival Bishop Diego back in the Tri-Valley League, the Warriors have even more motivation against the Cardinals. “Playing Bishop is always a big game, but now it’s even more important,” said Dolge.

CATE RAMS

COACH: Anna Alldredge

SEASON OUTLOOK: There’s a lot of potential and talent on the court for Cate. The Rams could be even better than last year’s squad, despite the fact that they have graduated five key players. But there’s still a bevy of experience, with 10 returners and seven seniors.

Setters Molly Sprague and Linzy Prudden may run 6-2 offense to keep three hitters up front. Senior captains Evelyn Weis and Casey Griffin are two of the biggest offensive threats as well as defensive leaders. Maddie Firestone (the third captain) and Shelby DeGroot will play in the middle and be relied upon for their blocking and hitting. Schuyler Hodge and Michelle Cleary will add to the senior class’ offensive arsenal.

Coach Anna Alldredge is stressing ball control this year, as it was an issue that led to a curiously symmetrical 16-match season last year. The Rams started off 8-0 and ended at 8-8.

“Our team has set a few specific goals this fall. They plan to improve every day in practice, beat their opponents in terms of defensive scrappiness, and play aggressive offense no matter how tight the match,” said Alldredge. “If we can live up to those goals, which I know our talented and experienced squad is desperate to do, this season will be a resounding success.”

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