SBART Luncheon: Dons show they can take the heat on road

The Santa Barbara High girls volleyball team can tell you all about the recent heat wave in Southern California.

Coach John Gannon told the crowd at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon that his team played matches last week at Royal in Simi Valley and at Thousand Oaks, where the temperature in the gyms seemed like an oven-like 90 degrees.

“Tomorrow we go to Westlake, so we’re making our trips down there and getting used to the heat,” he quipped.

The Dons have a hot player right now in outside hitter Jessyca Beksa. The junior drew the attention of coaches and players at last weekend’s Dave Mohs Tournament in Orange County.

“She definitely started to turn some heads in Orange County,” Gannon said. “Coaches were coming up and asking me, ‘Who is that? What year is she?’ She’s starting to make her mark and leave an impression with players and coaches down there.”

Paige Mascari made a good impression with her coach. With six players taking ACT tests, Mascari got to start on Saturday. She served up two aces, helping the team to a 6-0 start in a 15-10 third-set win against Centennial of Bakersfield. “That cushion was the difference,” said Gannon.”

The Dons (5-3) play their home opener on Thursday against Oxnard.


San Marcos: The Royals met one of their team goals by winning the San Luis Obispo Tournament.

Athlete of the Week Chloe Allen led San Marcos to the championship of the San Luis Obispo Tournament.

Athlete of the Week Chloe Allen led San Marcos to the championship of the San Luis Obispo Tournament.

“We finished third last year and (winning the tournament) was one of our goals in the beginning of season,” coach Erica Menzel Downing said

Chloe Allen was named the tournament MVP and Emily Allen and Anika Wilson were picked to the all-tournament team.

“Those are our three main players,” said Downing

The coach called Chloe Allen — the female Athlete of the Week — the team’s go-to player. She has committed to UCSB.

Downing also introduced libero Sarah Kang, one of four seniors on the squad. “She’s stepped into the libero position and done a great job. Not only is she brilliant student, she works really hard and loves the game,” said Downing.

The Royals host Oxnard on Tuesday.

Laguna Blanca: Coach Jim Alzina said the Owls are not in a rebuilding year, “but (it’s)  much more of a new team. “We have six freshmen on the team. When I first got here I didn’t even let freshmen try out.”

The Owls have two solid, experienced players in senior outside hitter Hannah White and junior Phoebe Madsen. White is a four-year varsity player and the team captain. Madsen, a junior, has played three years on the varsity and was all-CIF as an outside hitter last season. She is running the show as the setter this year.

Bishop Diego: The Cardinals have played in two tournaments, and coach Jason Donnelly is glad for all the matches. “Our kids just need to play,” he said.

Donnelly introduced outside hitter Morgan Wallace and libero Erin Linehan as “the most experienced players on the squad.” Both are seniors.

Bishop has high hopes as it opens Tri-Valley League play on Thursday against St. Bonaventure.

“Our goal is to make the playoffs in the TVL,” said Donnelly.

Providence: The Patriots are 3-2 to start the season. Coach Laura Newton likes this group of players “because all nine of our girls want to work hard and want to win.”

Two key players on the squad are the versatile Ozie LeSage and Cody Niessen. Newton said LeSage can hit with either hand. She learned to use her left after suffering a broken right thumb during club volleyball season.

Carpinteria: Athletic director Pat Cooney, reporting for coach Dino Garcia, said junior setter Katie McGee plays with a “Grade-A attitude” and co-captain Teagan Singer is “a force in the middle” for the Warriors. The team hosts the Carpinteria Valley Classic on Saturday.

Garden Street Academy: The school won its first CIF varsity event last week, beating Besant Hill in a five-set match.

Athletic director Jamie Dichard said the volleyball team is playing home matches at Girls Inc. on Hollister Ave. It hosts Providence on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Garden Street Academy is a member of the Condor League.


Westmont: After a 0-5 start, the Warriors have won six of their last eight matches.

Coach Patti Cook said a highlight in the early season was a comeback win over Azusa Pacific. “We hadn’t beaten them in 11 years and we took the down after being down 0-2,” said Cook.

She noted that Sam Maas, a former standout player at Dunn School, is one of her assistants this season.


Dos Pueblos: Kyle Visin and Bob Wilcher made their press luncheon debuts as co-coaches of the Chargers cross country teams.

“As many of you know, there’s a rich history at Dos Pueblos cross country, so we’re hoping to add to that and keep building on a program that’s been established,” said Visin.

He introduced top varsity girls runners, sisters Elaine and Natalie McClure. Elaine is a senior and Natalie a sophomore. “They’re both talented and are always pushing each other,” said Visin.

The girls team has five returning runners, so expectations are high this season.

The boys graduated five seniors off a team that placed third at the CIF State Meet.

Two of the returnees in attendance at the luncheon were senior Ian Wasjutin and junior Nathan Alvarez.

“We are in the process of bringing up new runners,” Visin said of the boys varsity team. “We’re still talented and I expect us to do well.”

Visin gave a shout out to returning assistant coach Micks Purnell.

Dos Pueblos is hosting the first Channel League meet on Wednesday at 4 p.m., at Scott O’Leary Stadium.

Santa Barbara: Captains Andy Hunter and Will Walker bring experience to the Dons boys team, said Joe Chenoweth, speaking for coach Olivia Perdices.

San Marcos: Senior captain Walker Odell leads a Royals boys squad that has a lot of new runners.. Odell was part of the team that qualified for the state meet last fall.

On the girls side, state qualifier Adilene Aldapa returns for coach Lawrence Stehmeier. She is the only senior on the squad. The young Royals made a strong impression in their first meet.

“Youth is a good thing,” Stehmeier said. “They gave us our first perfect score in the 15 years I’ve been coaching.” Royals runners finished first through fifth in a meet at Lompoc.

Stehmeier also introduced his No. 3 runner, freshman Mya Adornetto.

Carpinteria: Gaby Fantone is a busy body for the Warriors. She is two-sport athlete, holds down a job, is at the top of her class and is an accomplished concert pianists, said Cooney.

Francisco Arroyo, a standout on the boys soccer team, has developed into the top runner for the cross country squad.

The Warriors host the Carpinteria Valley Invitational on Wednesday at Viola Fields.


Westmont coach Russell Smelley said his teams “are dusting the footprints off our backs after scrimmages against good teams.”

The Warriors women’s team is ranked 15 in the NAIA and Smelley thinks it can uphold that ranking and be a national qualifier at the end of the year.

The men’s team has 10 freshmen. “They have a lot to learn and a lot of miles to go yet where they’ll be in position to compete where we want to,” he said. “I see a great future for them in the next three years to get back to the top of the conference.”


Santa Barbara: The Dons posted their first win last Friday (10-8 at Channel Islands), but coach JT Stone said they “still have a lot issues we want to work on,” reported Chenoweth. “The skill level of our players is high, and once they can get past the mistakes they’ll do extremely well for the rest of the season.”

Chenoweth introduced wide receiver Danny Vallin and defensive end Angel Perez.

San Marcos: The Royals are still searching for their first win.

“We are not off to the start we hoped,” coach Anthony Linebaugh said. “We did not play well last Friday.” The Royals lost at Pacifica, 55-7.

Dos Pueblos sophomore quarterback Kellen Roberts threw five touchdown passes and earned Athlete of the Week honors.

Dos Pueblos sophomore quarterback Kellen Roberts threw five touchdown passes and earned Athlete of the Week honors.

Linebaugh introduced two key players and leaders on the squad: Joe Estrada and Sage Reid. Estrada has played five positions, including quarterback. Reid, a quarterback, has come back from a torn ACL he suffered last season.

The Royals (0-3) play at Hueneme on Friday.

Bishop Diego: Center/defensive tackle Sam Grimm and defensive back Jon Gaasch have helped the Cardinals get off to a 3-0 start.

After winning 38-11 at LaSalle on Friday, Bishop Diego plays 2-1 Cabrillo at SBCC on Friday night.

Carpinteria: Coach Ben Hallock said the Warriors played their second game of the season like it was their opener. “We made a lot of mistakes.”

He noted it was the first game for players in the secondary and they were up against an experienced Nipomo team.

“Hopefully, we learned a lot from that game. We play Oak Park in our home opener. Hopefully, we can get it back together and play well against them,” said Hallock.

The coach introduced Richie Gallardo and Jason Martinez. Gallardo has rushed for 100 yards in the first two games. Martinez handles the place-kicking and is learning to play on the offensive line.

Dos Pueblos: What started out as a gloomy week turned into a celebration on Friday night as the Chargers won their first game, 48-20, over Santa Ynez.

Coach Nate Mendoza said seven starters were out for the game. “We had a lot of guys step up on Friday.”

Quarterback Kellen Roberts, in his second start since being called up from the JV team, threw for five touchdowns and 320 yards. Roberts was named the Athlete of the Week. Wide receiver John Wetzel caught two of Roberts’ TD passes.

“John Wetzel is the classic case of hanging in there and not getting frustrated,” Mendoza said. “He never missed a day of zero period weightlifting. He started out as a back-up this year, started the last game and caught two touchdown passes. It’s a great feeling when you see kids like that get the recognition they deserve.”

Another key player in the win was linebacker Jeff Uyesaka. He was all over the field making tackles.

“He’s a wrestler and you kind of see that on the football field; he’s leading our team in tackles,” Mendoza said of the son of former DP football coach Jeff Uyesaka. “You’d never guess he’s 155 pounds by the way he plays. He has a nose for ball and leads our defense.”

The Chargers face a tough challenge on Friday, hosting Newbury Park, the top-ranked team in the CIF Northern Division.

“They have a very explosive offense,” Mendoza said. “We play them at home and we’re excited for the challenge.”

Laguna Blanca: The Owls play their home opener on Saturday against Coast Union, a team they went 1-1 against last season, with the loss coming in the CIF playoffs.

“We’re fired up to play our first home game on Saturday,” said coach Shane Lopes, whose team opened with wins at L.A. Animo Charter and Santa Maria Valley Christian Academy.

Lopes introduced senior quarterback Stephen McCaffery, a four-year starter and one of the top students in his class. McCaffery is receiving interest from East Coast schools, according to Lopes. “He’s an impact player.”

Lopes also brought linebacker Pierce O’Donnell, who is one of the top students in the junior class. The coach said O’Donnell has gone from 114 pounds as a freshman player to 185 pounds. “He epitomizes what work ethic can do for an athlete.”


SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos said it was going to be “doubly tough” for his football team having to play at Hancock for the second straight year, especially after his Vaqueros won there last season.

Well, it was doubly exciting for the Vaqueros to win there again. They rallied for a 33-27 victory on Saturday in Santa Maria.

“In 30 years of coaching, that’s the finest win I’ve been a part of in my career,” gushed Moropoulos. “That’s because it was three phases — special teams, defense and offense were outstanding. It was a great win for our program.”

Moropoulos introduced cornerback Brad Sloan and wide receiver Elijah King as two key players in the win.

Sloan is a 6-4 sophomore cornerback out of Nordhoff High in Ojai. “They kept throwing the ball to his side and he was up to the task, knocking balls down,” said Moropoulos.

King had a monster game, catching 14 passes, including the go-ahead touchdown.

“They still don’t know where Elijah King is; they couldn’t find him, they couldn’t tackle him” said Moropoulos. He’s as fine a receiver that I’ve had in a long time. He’s got a very bright future.”

The Vaqueros go back on the road Saturday, playing at East Los Angeles College.