Perennial powers Mira Costa and Redondo Union begin their girls volleyball seasons this week against top-ten ranked division opponents, providing each team with a glimpse of what it will take to make a run for a CIF championship.
Redondo enters the season ranked second in the CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA poll and No. 7 in the nation by prepvolleyball.com. The Sea Hawks host Mater Dei (No. 7 in Div. 1-AA) Saturday at 6 p.m. before playing at Bishop Montgomery (No. 3 in Division 1-A) Tuesday in a 6 p.m. contest
“We open against a very good Mater Dei team,” Redondo head coach Tommy Chaffins said. “Mater Dei has Frankie Shebby, who is one of the top players in Southern California along with ex-Sea Hawk Payton Chang.”
Chaffins has a strong nucleus of returning players from the team that lost in four sets to Marymount in the 2012 championship match.
“We have many players who have played in big-time matches and have that kind of seasoning that helps big-time in high school,” Chaffins said. “Our players know the recipe for success and are willing to make the commitment it takes to be successful on and off the court – namely hard work. We have depth that makes our practices highly competitive and skilled. I believe when we scrimmage 6 on 6, we have players calling lines who are skilled enough to play in college and are fighting just to scrimmage our “A” squad. Differentiating who is on the “A” squad can be tough to tell as well. It is quite close in a few spots.”
The Sea Hawks will be led by a group of players who have already committed to Division 1 universities. Seniors Briana Lanktree (5-10, opposite/outside hitter, Virginia Tech), Leilani Martinez (5-5, libero, Dominguez Hills) and Marissa Mitter (6-0, opposite/outside hitter) join juniors Abril Bustamante (6-0, outside hitter/middle blocker, USC sand volleyball) and Kristen Hamlin (5-11, middle blocker and Bay League 110 hurdle champion) as key components to Redondo’s squad.
Sophomore setter Norene Iosia (5-10) returns after being named the National Freshman of the Year by prepvolleyball.com and the Sea Hawks will look forward to the talents of 6-foot-3 junior Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani, a University of Texas-bound opposite and outside hitter who transferred from Marymount and will be required to sit out the first month of the season.
“Senior Petra Grutzik (5-11), sophomore Megan Rice (5-11) and junior Hayes Honea (5-6,) are right there as well and could crack the starting lineup,” Chaffins added. “We can’t replace what our seniors – especially Skylar Dyktra, Katie Rotondo and Hannah Mosebar – brought to our team last year overnight. There will be a process which our remaining players will forge into new leaders and that will take some time. There are no shortcuts for learning how to lead, but we have the people to do it.”
Mira Costa hosts Marymount
Mira Costa opens its regular season Tuesday with a 5:30 p.m. home match against Marymount, the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA pre-season poll.
Mustang head coach Lisa Arce-Zimmerman will put a young, but talented team on the court led by seniors Brooke Feld, Sammy Furlan along with juniors Skylar Caputo, Phina Leilua and Katie Rethmeyer.
Following a stellar club season, the Alabama-bound Feld (5-4) will anchor the Mira Costa defense as its libero. Furlan (5-8) is committed to UC Berkeley and will be the team’s starting setter.
Caputo (5-11), who plans to play sand volleyball for Pepperdine, will hit outside this season and Rethmeyer (6-2) is a strong middle blocker who earned all-tournament honors at the Ann Kang Invitational tournament in Hawaii last month where Mira Costa placed fifth in the 31st annual tournament that included four CIF Southern Section teams ranked in the top ten of their respective divisions.
“Leilua is a junior outside hitter who jumps really well and is eager to make her mark this season,” Zimmerman said. “Lan Nguyen (5-9, outside hitter/defensive specialist), Keala Rusher (5-8, setter), Erin Sagisi (5-11, middle blocker) and Katrina Kernochan (5-9, outside hitter/defensive specialist) will all contribute to the team this season. We are not the tallest squad out there this season, but will stand up to the toughest teams. We have great ball control and heart and are looking forward to a great season.”