Fall 2019 Preview | Women's Volleyball

Fall 2019 Preview | Women's Volleyball

Tell us about last season.  Success both on and off the court?

Season Highlights:

-      Southern California Regional Finalist (Highest finish in PCAC-South, top 8 in the region, top 16 in the state)
-      PCAC-South Conference Champions
-      1,204 assists - 1st on conference, 2nd in state 1,259 kills - 1st in conference, 3rd in state
-      1,625 digs - 2nd in conference, 9th in state
-      PCAC Player of the Year: Raven Casas
-      PCAC Coach of the Year: Bobbie Jo Stall
-      PCAC 1st Team: Raven Casas, Zoe Tippetts, Rachel Wilkocz, Hannah Chapman
-      PCAC 2nd Team: Jalesa Poindexter, Ally Ferguson, Amanda Nguyen
-      PCAC Honorable Mention: Hannah Grimm
-      Most kills in state: Raven Casas with 484 kills
-      Most assists in state: Rachel Wilkocz
-      Both sophomores Hannah Chapman and Raven Casas moving on with scholarship to play at the next level.
-      Overall team GPA of 3.1.

What do we need to improve on for a more successful 2019?
Every season brings in a new group with unique dynamics. Our conference is now combined which brings the level of competition to a new level. There’s not a lot of room for error, we have to play well right out of the gates. 

The make-up of our team is entirely different. Not only do we have two new assistant coaches, but our freshman class is definitely something we are excited about. As long as we take care of all the little details, things should fall into place and we will contend. 

Generally speaking, what hurt us last year was lack of depth. This season, I feel as if our depth will be one of our strengths. 

As I always stress, we need to focus on the importance of winning our serve. We also need to be gritty on defense and improve our passing game. With our returning setter, I feel as if we can speed up and spread our offense more. 

Key returning players and what are you expecting from them?
We have many key returners who were starters for us last year. 

Setter Rachel Wilkocz is on track for another stellar season and has grown a lot in her position. 

Zoe Tippetts, one of our starting outsides and huge impact player is looking better than ever. She has consistently gotten better and stronger in all that her position requires. 

Middle blocker Jalesa Poindexter is also returning and was a player that made drastic improvements last season. She played beach in the spring and came back to us well-rounded as a player and more physical than last year. She always works hard, and it shows. 

Libero Amanda Nguyen is back as well. She was a huge part of our success last season. Nguyen started out as a role player and immediately became our starting libero. She never looked back and has continued to improve.    

Key losses through graduation or have transferred:
We only had two sophomores, both of which are moving on to play at the next level. Raven Casas led the state in kills and was the majority of our offense, so that fire power will certainly be missed. Hannah Chapman was a two-year starting middle for us and lead the conference in blocking and was our most efficient hitter.  

Tell us about the new additions to the team:
We are really excited about the additions to the program. We have some exciting players that we expect to contribute immediately. 

Lizzie Wilson is a San Diego native, outside hitter transfer from Boise State who will make a big impact on this team. 

We have a lot of great pick-ups from the San Diego area, including Westview grad Sabrina Sparatti. Sabrina spent much of her high school years competing on the State National Team of Baja California as well as Wave Volleyball Club. 

We have middle blocker Maddie Harris from Del Norte High who competed at Epic Volleyball Club. She’s an extremely good athlete with limitless potential. 

Izzy Milles attended University City High School. She played at Wave VBC and has a lot of diversity in her skill set and will be a great utility player for us. 

We also have 6’ OH/Opp Hannah Cordon who competed for Westview High School. She played at Epic Volleyball Club and is one of best all-around players who can hit well on either pin, pass well, and put up a good block.  

Layne Hembree is a MB/Opp from South Lake Tahoe who was a stud at the high school and club level. She brings one of the strongest arms on the team.

Aliyana Shivji is a libero from Westview High School. Although she battled with some injuries her senior year, she is back and has fully recovered. She has a high volleyball IQ, quickness, and great leadership qualities. She makes our defensive unit that much better.

Last but not least, we have Texas native Caroline Cruz joining the program. Cruz is a setter and an all-around stud athlete who competed for Bishop Gorman High School in Tyler, Texas. She is a 4-year letter winner and district MVP for volleyball and was also a big standout in tennis and beach volleyball. 

With a new roster, what type of team are we going to be?
Overall, we have a great group of athletes who are dedicated and hard working. We have a high character group that will thrive on and off the court. 

What will be our biggest strength?
Our strength will be in the experience of our returning players. We are definitely excited about our incoming freshmen. Although most of them are seasoned players, there’s always a transition from playing club volleyball to college ball. Having these seasoned veterans will definitely make that transition easier. 

Give me a quick overall view of our conference.
We combined into a 9-team PCAC conference that is absolutely stacked. We had 4 of the 9 teams go to playoffs last year and this year we only get 1 guaranteed spot. We also have a new RPI ranking system that will make every week interesting. Whoever wins conference this year will have a legitimate shot at the state championship. 

What are your expectations? 
We expect to be at the top and in contention for another conference championship. 
We are confident with our group and the potential is there. It will not be an easy road, but we believe in our program.

What is your mindset and philosophy?
It was awesome to have the success we had last year, but we understand that last year’s results have nothing to do with this year. We are taking it one day at a time and understand that we must build every day and earn every bit of success.   

Tell us about the new coaching staff?
We have brought in Kaja Sandburg, a SDSU volleyball grad who is looking to experience college level coaching. Kaja has been coaching club and high school volleyball for 5 years prior to joining us. She brings high level experience to the program, especially at the hitter and setter positions.

We also brought in former Grossmont College assistant James Russell. He has a wealth of coaching experience for the past 20 years in club, high school and college level. He played at San Diego Mesa for the men’s program in 2001 and currently is the boy’s head coach for University City High School where he is also a volunteer coach for the wrestling team.

Volunteer assistant David Chau is also on staff. He is a current member of the men’s program at Mesa and has assisted with the Hoover High program for the last 5 years.

We are excited about the coaching staff we have assembled. Each one brings a unique asset to the team having coached at different levels of volleyball. More important, our philosophies align with the objectives of our program and department.