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PC gets 2nd crack at Sierra
The Porterville College volleyball team earned the No. 10 seed in the NorCal playoffs and its reward: a rematch with the team that handed it its first loss: No. 7 Sierra.
The Pirates (17-5, 11-3 CVC) will travel north to Rocklin and battle the Wolverines (19-9, 9-5 Big 8 Conference) at 7:30 p.m., tonight.
PC, which is a playoff entrant for the first time in four years, finished the 2009 season ranked No. 25 in the state while Sierra was No. 14 in the final CCCWVCA poll.
The Wolverines swept the Pirates in the San Jose Tournament, Sept. 25, 25-22, 25-15, 26-24, and took California’s No. 1 team, Sacramento City (28-0), to five games in round one while losing in three close games in round two.
Pirates coach Dale Henderson said his team is not the same squad that took the court nearly two months ago and the team’s improvement should make tonight’s game a memorable first-rounder.
“(The Wolverines) weren’t dominant and that’s why I’ve got a good feeling about this one,” Henderson said. “We’ve improved so drastically since then...I think we’re gonna shock ‘em.”
Sierra does not boast an abundance of top-flight hitters, but, like the Exeter High volleyball team, it’s gotten to this point through balance.
“We’re not walking into any 6’3s or 6’4s,” Henderson said of Sierra’s front row. “But they’re finesse players. They’re athletic and all six move well. There’s no iffy players (in their lineup).”
Sierra’s resume includes victories over NorCal No. 9 Diablo Valley College, No. 12 Feather River College and Shasta College (The Wolverines would lose to the latter two schools in the rematches, however) with losses to No. 4 Fresno City College and No. 6 Butte College.
PC lost three times to Fresno, beat Feather River in September, but didn’t play any other playoff teams.
The Wolverines’ top hitter is 5-foot-8 freshman outside hitter Shelby Madigan (2.33 kills per game with 168 kills and 114 hitting errors) while 5-foot-11 Rachel Vetterlein finished with 220 kills in the regular season with just 94 errors to go with it.
Defensively, Sierra is led by 5-foot-3 freshman Alexis Moser, who ranks 22nd in the state with 4.71 digs per game while 5-foot-11 middle blocker Danielle Griffin has with 74 blocks (in 96 games), averaging 0.77 blocks per game.
The Pirates are powered by sophomore 5-foot-10 middle blocker Olga Velasquez, who is 21st in California with 3.55 kills per game (266 kills compared to just 56 hitting errors), and freshman outside hitter Evan Dillon — 31st in California with 3.32 kills per game (239 total kills with just 39 hitting errors).
Freshman libero Sabina Lopez was 34th in the state with 4.2 digs per game with sophomore setter Laura Lopez leading the CVC in assists while ranking 12th in the state with 9.91 assists per game.
After Wednesday’s sweep over Taft in the regular-season finale, Henderson opted to offer his team last Friday off, but the squad declined, saying that the practice was too vital to a victory tonight.
“They said, ‘No, we can’t take the day off, we need to work out.’ So we came in and had another great practice,” he said. “It’s exciting to see.”
Henderson said the team focused on communication and speeding up the offensive tempo in Monday’s practice.
Velasquez, Lopez on All-CVC first team
Velasquez finished her Central Valley Conference career with her second straight first-team appearance. Not bad for someone who came to Porterville with no intention of playing the sport.
Setter Laura Lopez was the other Pirate to make the top team.
The 2008 Exeter volleyball team was also well-represented on the all-conference squads with PC’s Sabina Lopez and Evan Dillon landing on the second team and College of the Sequoias setter Katheryn Hutcheson and outside hitter Taylor Fahrni receiving first-team honors.
Hutcheson led the CVC with 10.29 assists per game (eighth in California) while Fahrni ranked in the top 40 in the state in kills per game (3.13).
Freshman Pirate hitter Katrina Goulbourne was also on the second team, finishing in the top 50 in the state in kills per game (2.85) and had 205 kills compared to 57 errors.
Sophomore Pirate middle blocker Jennifer Gliddon was named honorable mention in her last volleyball season.
Fresno City College middle blocker Taylor Lucero was the CVC’s MVP. Fresno finished 14-0 in the league with PC placing second (11-3) and COS third (10-4).