Out with old, in with new

No clear fa­vorite in Foothill League v-ball this sea­son

The Signal - - SPORTS - By Ha­ley Sawyer Sig­nal Sports Ed­i­tor

With turnover in both the play­ers and coaches cat­e­gories this sea­son, Foothill League vol­ley­ball, which be­gins tonight, al­most has a new car smell.

West Ranch and Golden Val­ley both have new coaches in Jamey Ker and Jack John­son, re­spec­tively. Al­most ev­ery team has lost key se­niors.

The race to the top of the Foothill League was tough last year, and Va­len­cia coach Ray Sanchez doesn’t see a clear top team this year, either.

“I think a lot of the teams in the league have the same sit­u­a­tion we’re in,” Sanchez said. “There was a lot of turnover in terms of se­niors grad­u­at­ing and that stuff. It’s hard to know.”

The Vik­ings re­turn se­nior out­side hit­ter Lau­ryn Shock­ley at out­side hit­ter and sopho­more Kae­lyn White, who started for the team last year as a fresh­man.

Lauren Russ, a se­nior, is also back af­ter be­ing side­lined for all of last year due

to in­jury.

They also have two new faces who are al­ready mak­ing an im­pact. Alyssa Grodell and Jes­sica Throck­mor­ton, who didn’t pick up vol­ley­ball un­til this year, have both been con­tribut­ing.

West Ranch is a top chal­lenger for the Vik­ings this year, although the Wild­cats have lost a few key play­ers to grad­u­a­tion. Tasha Sk­a­belund, Katie Ja­cobs and Kaitlin Schultz are all gone, leav­ing room for re­cent UCLA com­mit Al­li­son Ja­cobs to lead the Cats.

Hart and Sau­gus will be tough com­peti­tors, too.

The In­di­ans are with­out now-grad­u­ated Madi Fay’s ag­gres­sive play, but re­turn some fiery play­ers in Ash­ley Soto, Makenna Fall, De­laney Gibbs and Ash­ley Cosey.

As for the Cen­tu­ri­ons, Caitlin Liebe, who had 304 kills in 92 games last sea­son, and Holly Piroli, a de­fen­sive spe­cial­ist, are back for their se­nior years.

Each of the above can be ex­pected to have an ex­panded role and be tested in new ways this year.

Sanchez views the un­cer­tainty of this sea­son as an ad­van­tage.

“I think a cer­tain level of un­cer­tainty is al­ways there,” he said. “But it makes it fun to know that there’s a chance you could win league, there’s a chance you could fin­ish third in league. It gives you the in­cen­tive to say fo­cused.”

Va­len­cia will play at Canyon for its Foothill League opener tonight. Hart will be at Golden Val­ley and Sau­gus will be at West Ranch. All games start at 5:30 p.m.

Sig­nal File Photo

West Ranch’s Katie Ja­cobs (2), right, tips the ball over the net against Va­len­cia’s Lau­ryn Shock­ley (11), cen­ter, and Han­nah Welt­mann (6) last sea­son. Shock­ley will play a valu­able role for the Vik­ings this year.

Sig­nal file photo

Ash­ley Cosey (11) brings a fiery pres­ence to the court for Hart vol­ley­ball, which fin­ished fourth in the Foothill League last sea­son.

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