SBART Luncheon: Help wanted in middle at Westmont

Emily Beasley, left, and Tierra Poindexter are key players for the Garden Street Academy volleyball team.

Emily Beasley, left, and Tiarra Poindexter are key players for the Garden Street Academy volleyball team.

It’s a tough time to be a middle blocker on the Westmont College volleyball team.

Coach Patti Cook said all three middle blockers on her roster are sidelined with injuries. She moved right-side hitter Sydney Striff into the spot for a GSAC match against Vanguard and Striff played well in a four-set loss.

“I’m not making excuses when we played Vanguard, but they don’t know what’s coming when we’re healthy,” Cook told the audience at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café.

As the other middles recover from ankle and rotator cuff injuries, the 5-11 Striff has filled in nicely. The junior had strong outings in sweeps over William Jessop and Menlo College last Saturday in Sacramento.

“I’m so proud of Sydney Striff to go out and play middle blocker. She hasn’t played it since high school,” said Cook, who also praised the steady play of left-side hitter Sarah McGough.


Laguna Blanca: The Owls also lost a middle when Luisa Cameron went down with a knee injury in a loss against Viewpoint.

“Apparently, this was a bad week for middles,” said coach Jim Alzina.

Dani Abrams, the Owls’ other middle, gave the team a big lift at last Saturday’s Cate Tournament. Alzina said she provided an MVP-kind of performance.

Another key player for Laguna Blanca is Emily Lafitte, a junior outside hitter.

San Marcos: Erica Menzel Downing brought her college-bound senior captains Anika Wilson and Emily Allen. Wilson has committed to Pepperdine for sand volleyball (she’s a triple-A rated player on the beach) and Allen has given a verbal to play indoors at UC Davis.

Downing said both players are leaders on and off the court. “Both have great futures,” she said. “It’s been fun to watch them grow and become great young women.”

The Royals (4-2) play at Buena on Tuesday.

Santa Barbara High: Middle Caroline Anderson and outside hitter Tatum Vedder have been a key part of the Dons’ program, said coach John Gannon.

He said Anderson does a lot of little things that most people don’t notice. She’ll handle “team meals, team meetings, those little things that make a team come together. Caroline does those things without being asked. She does it out of the kindness of her heart but also out of her desire to make the team more than just a team on the court.”

Gannon was impressed with Vedder’s readiness when called upon to play in the third set against San Marcos. She performed well, helping the Dons close out the match.

“It was great to see Tatum excel in a big match,” he said.

The Dons (9-3, 1-0) play host to Dos Pueblos on Tuesday.

Bishop Diego: Coach Jason Donnelly said the team is “working on finding ways to win.” He’s impressed with the improved hitting of junior lefty opposite Judith Angulo and leftside hitter Francesca Engel, who was the team’s defensive specialist last season.

Garden Street Academy: The Comets are off to a 2-2 start in their first season in the Condor League.

“We had high hopes because we have five seniors. I thought we would be all right,” said Athletic Director Jami Dichard.

He introduced Tiarra Poindexter and Emily Beasley as two of the impact players on the squad.


SBCC: As match-up issues swirled in his head while walking into La Playa Stadium last Saturday afternoon, coach Craig Moropoulos stopped to take in the scene around him.

“There was a little bit of a breeze and there was a beautiful cruise ship in the harbor,” he described. “I said, ‘This is pretty special.’

“And it turned out to be special game for us. We won 56-38.”

The Vaqueros received a stellar performance from freshman running back Cedric Cooper of Seattle. He rushed for 121 yards and threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Brandon Edwards.

Saturday’s win was especially rewarding for local player Parker Rozenburg, a freshman from San Marcos.

“His mother promised him, knowing he’s a defensive lineman: ‘If you get an interception, I’ll give you $100,” said Moropoulos, telling the story. “He got a tipped ball and rambled four yards.”

Moropoulos looked over at Rozenburg and yelled: “Hey, enjoy your $100, Parker.”

Moropoulos also gave props to offensive line coach Dan Lever. The Vaqueros rushed for 378 yards in the win.

SBCC plays host to Southwest L.A. on Saturday at 1 p.m.


Carpinteria: Coach Ben Hallock said his team was plagued by five turnovers in its loss to South Torrance last Friday. “We got to recover. We need to look after the ball better.”

Hallock introduced junior fullback Aaron Vargas, who’s had a pair of 100-plus yard running games and junior outside linebacker Abram Lopez, who has made steady improvement.

Laguna Blanca: Coach Shane Lopes said with all the passing plays his team runs, fans should set aside three hours for a game.

The last game started an hour late because Discovery Prep didn’t arrive until 2:45 p.m. for a scheduled 3 p.m. kickoff. Lopes said a running clock was used in the second half so they could finish the game before it got dark.

Lopes introduced first-year player Darwin Miguel, who led the team in tackles on Saturday, and Ben Rios, who sealed the 66-50 win with a late touchdown.

Santa Barbara High: Coach JT Stone has stressed to receivers Christopher Jellison and Mason Bigelow
to be the masters of their craft. “And they excel at that,” he said. “They’re not the biggest but they work hard. Their effort in the classroom is tremendous. These two guys do a great job for our program.”

Stone was pleased how his team found a way to win against Royal, 35-28. “We got things rolling offensively. (Quarterback) Brent Peus had a good night.”

The Dons (3-2) face a big challenge on Friday when they travel to unbeaten Pacifica in Oxnard.

San Marcos: The Royals couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead and lost 17-14 at Channel Islands.

“We have to learn how to close out close games; we’ve had a couple of heartbreakers,” said San Marcos coach Anthony Linebaugh.

The coach introduced Jason Diep and Ivan Reyes as two guys who bring toughness to the team. Diep, a senior, will play anywhere he’s needed. He filled in a tight end in the last game. Reyes, a junior, is a downhill runner who has a great passion for the game and leads by example.

The Royals play host to Nordhoff on Thursday.

Dos Pueblos: The Chargers play their fourth undefeated team on Thursday when they travel to Sierra Canyon in Granada Hills. They’ve faced Pacifica, Newbury Park and Lompoc.

“League is one week away,” said coach Nate Mendoza.

Mendoza said his offense did some good things in the loss against Lompoc. “We’re excited with what we saw. We’re getting two of our big guns on that side (of the ball).”

Quarterback Barrett Burnes and tight end Austen Pearce returned to the lineup and played well.