Youth is served on Roseville volleyball teams
A new school year brings with it a new season of girls volleyball.
Roseville, Granite Bay and Woodcreek of the Sierra Foothill League, Oakmont of the Capital Valley Conference and Valley Christian Academy of the Sacramento Metro Athletic League have begun nonleague matches with the goal being to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Rocklin returns eight players from its Division II section championship team, and Del Oro brings back seven players from its Division II semifinalist.
Roseville also advanced to the semifinals, where it was swept by Rocklin 3-0. The Tigers (9-3 this season) return four players, all seniors, including four-year varsity player Kali Lauhon, libero Amanda Susbilla, Kendall Harrison and Kelsey Starr.
Lauhon was an All-SFL honorable-mention selection last season.
Longtime coach Ron Grove said the only surprise this season was Molly Lanoie, a senior who decided to make her last year her first year of volleyball.
Grove plans a 6-2 offense with two setters and the addition of talented players up from the JV team.
“The JV team last year was one game from being undefeated, so we have a lot of those juniors and the sophomores who are playing big roles on varsity now,” he said.
Jennifer Simon, younger sister of decorated Roseville graduate Katie Simon, should be a healthy addition to the team, according to Grove. Katie Simon is starting her second year of basketball at the University of Nebraska.
Kirsten Merlino, last year’s JV team captain, will jump into a big outside hitting role, and she had a team-best five kills against Rio Americano on Tuesday night. Junior Marrisa Dumford and sophomore Leslie Pease also are working into key roles.
“How well we do will depend on the team and the younger girls’ mental maturation processes,” Grove said. “If we were anywhere else but the SFL, I’d say we’d be in the top four in the section. It’s going to be a challenge every week. They have the talent; it’s just whether they can mentally pull it off.”
Jamie Ingram begins her third year as head coach of the Grizzlies (3-0 after sweeping Oak Ridge on Thursday night) with six returning players, including three starters.
Kassie Donnels and All-SFL honorable mention selection Lindsey Nelson are the only returning seniors from last season’s 21-13 squad, and sophomores Maddy Deters and Taylor Nelson also were All-SFL honorable mention.
“We currently do not have captains,” Ingram said. “It has been awesome to see some amazing leaders emerge out of the group, people that I normally would not expect stepping up.
“Ultimately, it is a new team with a lot to work with. They have set some pretty solid goals for themselves and are motivating and pushing each other to attain them.”
AJ Mackin was promoted from JV head coach to varsity assistant. Nine players moved up with him.
Woodcreek (4-7) might have an uphill battle in the SFL, based on its age and experience.
Established coach Brian Jew returns four players from last season’s 5-17 team, and he added freshmen Carissa Bradley and Jessica Blum.
Junior captain Sarah Shively and senior captain Jamie Smith bring experience, according to Jew. Seniors Kiana Chaney and Destiny Standifer complete the Timberwolves’ returners. Captain Brooke Rogers and Nicole Asuncion are the other two seniors.
“The difference is that we are younger. It’s hard to tell what will happen with the season,” Jew said. “The SFL is a battle every night. I believe we have way more to prove than the other teams. We’ve been down the past few years and need to get back to a level of play that we are capable of. Most of our players have not seen varsity volleyball. It’s a different beast than club, and they’ll learn quickly.”
Shelby Weinberger, a second-year coach with club team High Impact and former Sierra College player, took over as coach of the Vikings (0-2) this season.
Oakmont finished 12-18 overall and 5-5 in the CVC and lost to Rio Americano in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Weinberger returns six players from that team, three seniors and three juniors. Add some new faces, and Weinberger feels optimistic.
“Our strength this year will be our depth. We have many girls bringing so much versatility to the team,” Weinberger said. “We have some big hitters that I hope to utilize and be an aggressive attacking and serving team.”
Sophi Lozano, sister of former two-time captain and team MVP Maddie Lozano, Jessica Johnson and Morgan Reed are expected to lead the team in different capacities.
Valley Christian, coming off a 23-1 season that included a 12-0 run through the Sacramento Metro Athletic League and a berth in the Division VI section final, is in what coaches called a “rebuilding year.”
Three players return to the Lady Lions (2-2) — setter, backcourt specialist and captain Heather Frank, the only senior, and junior outside hitters Erin Patterson and Emily Flood.
Five former JV players join 15th-year head coach Maria Hill and assistant Chris Patterson.
Last year’s JV team won a league title for the second year in a row. Moving up is team MVP HaeLeigh Sinerius, who probably will play libero, according to Patterson. Others include junior defensive specialist Elysia Straub and junior hitter Sarah Finnell.
Patterson said he expects a big contribution from Straub after playing a year of club volleyball between JV and varsity seasons.