2017-09-01 / Sports

Who will rise to the top?

GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL /// Coastal Canyon League Simi Valley, Royal girls’ volleyball squads will battle for league glory
By Jonathan Andrade


BE COOL—Simi Valley’s Amanda Fernandez, right, and Sammi Shinagawa celebrate a point against Agoura. BE COOL—Simi Valley’s Amanda Fernandez, right, and Sammi Shinagawa celebrate a point against Agoura. Parity rules among high school girls’ volleyball teams in the Coastal Canyon League.

“I love that about this league,” Royal head coach Kristine Connolly said. “It’s a very tight race. Anybody at any given time could step out into the lead.”

Oak Park is the defending league champion. Royal is two years removed from a Coastal Canyon crown. Moorpark, Simi Valley and Camarillo appear poised to make a move for the top spot. The Musketeers are early-season favorites to hoist a banner.

“I’d say the championship is going to have to go through Moorpark this year,” said Camarillo head coach Rob Vandermay. “I think they have the team to beat this year.”

SIMI VALLEY PIONEERS


JUMP BALL—Sadie Rogers sets the ball during the Simi Valley High girls’ volleyball team’s match against Agoura on Aug. 29 at home. 
Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers JUMP BALL—Sadie Rogers sets the ball during the Simi Valley High girls’ volleyball team’s match against Agoura on Aug. 29 at home. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Head coach Samantha Crane is trying to make the Pioneers believe.

“We have a pretty experienced team overall,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting them to believe in themselves. I know they have the talent.”

The second-year head coach added former Royal assistant Tom Freyder to her staff, and the Pioneers are reaping the benefits.

“That has been the biggest pick up for us,” she said. “We can split the time. He can coach one group and I can coach another group. The girls love him. I think he’s a huge asset to the program.”

Opposite hitter Kate Robinson and outside hitters Amanda Fernandez and Megan Tenney, three of nine seniors on the roster, lead the Pioneers (0-3 overall at press time.)


STYLE—Simi Valley’s Sammi Shinagawa hits the ball against Agoura. STYLE—Simi Valley’s Sammi Shinagawa hits the ball against Agoura. Elise Beauvoir, a senior, and Alicia Porter, a junior, cause fits at middle blocker.

Sadie Rogers, a sophomore, filled in at setter when senior Abri De Orio went down with an ankle injury.

Seniors Sammi Shinagawa and Ashley Barnett share time at libero.

“If we get over that mental hump, we’ll be all right,” Crane said. “When we’re on, we’re on. I honestly think we can compete with some of these teams this year.”

ROYAL HIGHLANDERS

Kristine Connolly said this Highlander group is the deepest team she’s had in her four years as head coach.

Royal (2-1 at press time) used every bit of its depth to dig deep in a pair of five-set victories against Agoura and Louisville.

“It showed my team’s fight,” Connolly said. “They battled their way to win those matches. It was tough, but fun and exciting.”

Royal battled Newbury Park on Thursday. A score was unavailable at press time.

Royal, which captured a league crown in 2015, wants to return to the top of the Coastal Canyon standings this fall.

“We have a lot more offensive weapons than we’ve had, even the year we won league,” Connolly said. “This year, it’s a lot more spread out, which opens things up for us.”

Alex Omaszta, a sophomore outside hitter who started as a freshman, returns as the Highlanders’ top offensive threat.

Katherine Leap, a junior outside hitter, brings the boom on offense.

Sarah Freyder, a junior libero and captain, solidifies the defense.

Riley Waggoner, a 6-foot junior who starts at middle blocker, is a vital force at the net.

“We’re going to be a fun team,” Connolly said. “They want to chase that league championship again.”

CAMARILLO SCOPRIONS

Head coach Rob Vandermay, now in his 12th season, has never had fewer players try out for volleyball.

There are 11 players on the varsity squad, and they’ll all play crucial roles.

“Everyone’s going to have the opportunity to excel,” Vandermay said.

Camarillo (4-4 at press time) played Calabasas on Thursday. A score was unavailable at press time.

The Scorpions run a two-setter offense with seniors Abby Michalak and Kristiana Hardisty.

Megan Wall, a Boston College commit, is a libero’s nightmare at outside hitter. She’s a senior.

Lauren Brown, a junior who patrolled middle blocker last season, provides power at opposite hitter.

Megan Ortgies, a junior, starts at libero.

Selena Starks, a senior middle blocker, is back after suffering an ACL injury five months ago.

Victoria Hooper, a senior, contributes at middle blocker and opposite.

“She’s a little undersized for the prototypical middle, but she’s very effective,” the coach said of Hooper.

Camarillo opens Coastal Canyon action on Sept. 19 against defending league champion Oak Park at home.

“I hope we’ll be able to put our statement in there,” Vandermay said. “We do need some of our younger players to step up and mature rapidly.”

MOORPARK MUSKETEERS

There’s no such thing as a fairy-tale beginning. It’s all about the ending.

So the Musketeers (0-3 at press time) can keep their eyes on the prize after being swept in their first three matches of the season.

“We’ve been playing lots of tough teams,” head coach Hallie Willard said. “We’re looking pretty solid for league.”

The Musketeers expect to compete for a Coastal Canyon title.

“I think we have it this year, for sure,” Willard said. “The only other team that can kind of compete with us right now is Oak Park.”

Junior outside hitters Halle Perkins and Alex Quiles, and middle blockers Kari Esseff, a junior, and Michelle Butman, a senior, are returning starters.

“I love that they’ve already experienced the varsity level,” Willard said. “They know what to expect. Now they know the fast-paced game. They’re getting more of a rhythm.”

Mia Medina, a junior setter and captain, guides the air traffic.

Jules Hansen, the younger sister of New York Jets wide receiver Chad Hansen, starts at opposite hitter. The Musketeer is a senior.

Juniors Eleanna Laba and Tessa Tafuri share time at libero.

Moorpark’s back in action Sept. 6 against Rio Mesa.

OAK PARK EAGLES

Oak Park returns nearly every player from its Coastal Canyon League championship squad.

“There’s a lot of experience on the court,” second-year head coach Adam Quinn said. “They look hungry. . . . Their expectations are pretty high right now.”

The Eagles (2-1) were undefeated in league action in 2016.

Taylor Hunter, a junior middle blocker who is committed to Cal State Northridge, is a big part of the team’s winning formula. Quinn called her the most dominant player in the Coastal Canyon.

Senior captains Allyson Hawkins, an outside hitter, and Lauren Herrera, a setter, guide the Eagles.

Danielle Gould, a junior libero, is a third-year starter.

“She’s probably the best all-around player in the league,” Quinn said of the versatile Gould.

Anna Casillas, a senior, fortifies middle blocker.

Oak Park is on the road tonight against Ventura.

“I would like to go undefeated in league again,” Quinn said. “The girls are changing the culture of Oak Park girls’ volleyball.”

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