Sports in the News
Women's Volleyball: Setter Strong In 2011
Every year in women's volleyball, a team yearns to have a person to rely on at the setter position in order to quarterback the offense. Great setters have often been the difference between who wins a conference or even state title. The Pasadena City College women's volleyball team comes into the 2011 season in an envious situation. The Lancers have not one, but two setters with enormous talent.
Ranked No. 7 in the state last year, PCC will try to live up to its lofty ranking behind the return after a year off of All-State setter Jessica Xu. An international student from China, the 6-foot-1 Xu helped lead the 2009 team to the school's first-ever South Coast Conference championship. A hand injury made her a medical redshirt last season, but now she is back to help solidify PCC's offense and add experience with her versatile play.
Xu won't be alone as she is complemented by the addition of a top recruit in freshman setter Kailey Faust. Faust also has a winner's background as she helped St. Lucy's Priory High of Glendora win the CIF Southern Section Division 2A title last year as a senior.
"You go around the state, and everyone will tell you how lucky they are to have one good setter," said PCC Head Coach Tammy Silva, who has directed PCC to two consecutive top 10 state finishes. "We come into this season with the luxury of having Xu back and then Faust, who could start right now at a lot of colleges. It gives us depth, but at the same time allows us the flexibility to run different offenses."
The Lancers return three players from last year's squad, and two from the SCC title team of 2009 in Xu and 6-foot, middle blocker Stacey Diaz. The 2010 lettermen class includes returning libero Jessica Vargas, who set a PCC single-season record for digs with 343, outside hitter Ella Moe, who averaged 3 kills a game (132 overall) before a knee injury cut short her season after only 44 sets played (less than half of the season), and defensive specialist Mallorie Hopkins, who improved to become one of the team's better defenders over the final weeks of the season.
"We lost five all-conference players to graduation, but we have some key returners at several different positions," Silva said. "Xu has really matured since that freshman season and Diaz has suddenly emerged as a player in the middle. She brings energy and height to us after being just a bench player two years ago. Vargas and Hopkins can both dig the ball well and have improved on serve receive."
A rookie class of 11 freshmen is led by the team's blue-chip recruit in 6-foot, opposite Jackie Valle-Acosta from South Hills High (West Covina).
"Jackie is an aggressive player and solid blocker," Silva said. "She has a heavy arm swing."
Middle blocker-opposite Yanise Joseph, from Palisades Charter High, gives the team four 6-foot talents on the roster. "She's a strong blocker who we can utilize at opposite to shut down our opponent's big outside hitters. Yanise can play all three front row positions. She's another player from a winning program as Pali captured the LA City championship last season."
Viridiana Gallaro, from LA City runner-up Polytechnic High of Sun Valley, is an up-and-coming outside hitter as will be Anolani Ramos-McCorriston, who comes from Kailua, Hawaii, and possesses strong leaping ability with a relentless hitting swing.
The rest of the frosh class is made up of outside hitter Tiffany Roesler (Covina High), outside hitter Jennifer Estrada (Arcadia), outside hitter Kassie Jones (Duarte), defensive specialist Victoria Arreola (San Marino), outside hitter Hunter Martinsen (Big Bear), and opposite Yvette Corral (Polytechnic).
"We've set a precedent here the past few seasons of winning volleyball," Silva said. "This will be our biggest challenge since the 2008 season since we have our youngest team since that year. Already there is a team chemistry in practices and the players seem to really like one another. The development of our freshmen will key what direction we go."
Silva has an impressive 72-25 record in her four seasons in charge of the PCC volleyball program.
The Lancers open the 2011 season Friday, Aug. 26 with a pair of matches at the PCC Quad Tournament. PCC hosts Glendale College in a 3 p.m. match before playing against Silva's alma mater and former coaching college, Citrus, at 5 p.m. Both contests are played at PCC's Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
[Photo--Jessica Xu, an All-State and All-South Coast Conference First Team setter from two seasons ago, returns to lead the 2011 Lancers volleyball team.]
Release Date: 08/25/11