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Great Expectations: Women's Volleyball Depth A Key For '09 Season

Great Expectations: Women's Volleyball Depth A Key For '09 Season image

After losing a pair of two-time, All-South Coast Conference First Team players to graduation, Pasadena City College women's volleyball coach Tammy Silva knew she had to restock her roster for the 2009 season. After making final cuts this week, Silva feels her revamped 14-player roster already is the most talented group in her three seasons at PCC.

"We are set at every position, and for the first time we have a strong bench that we can go to during matches," Silva said. "We have potential to do great things. We have a strong all-around team and players that can move to different positions based on our offensive or defensive strategy."

In fact, half of her roster are listed at two positions, allowing versatility with her lineup.

Four players return from the 2008 Lancers who finished 16-7 and ranked 19th in the CCCWVCA Final State Top 25 Poll. That group includes All-SCC First Team libero Marissa Rangel and All-SCC Second Team middle blocker Galia Sotomayor. Rangel set a PCC single-season digs record with 322 while Sotomayor was the team's blocks leader with 58 to go with 165 kills (third on the squad). Reserve defensive specialist Anita Wang and backup middle blocker Jessica Damasco round out the lettermen.

PCC picked up one other sophomore in transfer outside hitter Nicole Holmes, who two years ago was 23rd in the state in attack kills (366) while playing as an All-Orange Empire Conference freshman at Cypress College. Holmes is originally from La Serna High in Whittier.

"We bring back our best defensive player in Marissa," Silva said of her sophomores. "Galia is starting off where she finished last year. Her blocking is now at a higher level than her freshman season. Nicole hits a heavy ball and she brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team as well as experience."

Pasadena's freshmen corps is led by Jessica Xu, a tall 6-1 setter from Shenyang, China, who received tremendous praise by Silva in pre-season practices.

"She's the best setter I have ever seen at the community college level," Silva said. "She's blessed with natural talent, and knows the game well. She is going to rotate from setting in the back row to hitting in the front row. She's just learning English, but she's already picking up a lot in a short time. It will be fun to see her in action in real matches."

Patti Blasco, a 5-8 outside hitter from Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico, is another stalwart who will step into a key role.

"Patti is just a dominant player on both offense and defense," said Silva. "She's a leader both physically and vocally. Another player who has great understanding of the game. She's going to be our go-to hitter."

Klaire Blasco, Patti's younger sister, will be PCC's other setter and figures to play a lot in the team's 6-2 offense. Newcomers Jessica Foley, a 5-11 middle blocker from West Covina High, and 5-11 opposite Miranda Doing each earned starting positions as freshmen. Doing earned an All-CIF Division III Second Team selection as a senior at La Mirada High. She was a member of the Whittier Daily News All-Area Team.

"Jessica jumps really well and obviously blocking is her strength. Miranda is also one of our better blockers. From a talent standpoint, the freshmen group is very strong. But the fact we are playing so many freshmen, we'll have to factor in the learning curve. The first few matches will set the tone for us."

The rest of PCC's roster include defensive specialist Cambria Mendez (Whittier High) and three players from El Rancho High in defensive specialist Mariah Cardenas (465 digs as a senior), outside hitter Ruby Lopez (averaged 2.2 kills, 1.7 blocks last year), and 6-foot middle blocker Stacey Diaz.

The Lancers host the season-opening Pasadena Tournament Friday, Aug. 28 when they play a pair of matches against Cypress (3 p.m.) and Santa Barbara City (5 p.m.) at PCC's Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium. Riverside, Mt. San Antonio and Glendale also are participating in the one-day tourney that will feature three matches on three courts. Each team will play two matches.

[Photo--Returning All-South Coast Conference libero Marissa Rangel leads the PCC women's volleyball team into the 2009 season Friday.]

Release Date: 08/27/09
Robert Lewis, Sports Information
Phone: 626-585-7018, Email: rmlewis@pasadena.edu