Courtney Thacker, a 2011 graduate of Yosemite High School, has played a key role in the success of the Fresno City College Rams (26-3) volleyball team that won its sixth straight Central Valley Conference Championship this season and advanced to the semi-finale game in the state play-offs.
Thacker's coach, Tracy Ainger-Schulte, was selected Coach of the Year for the conference after improving her record to 82-2 in conference matches and 135-27 overall in the CVC in six seasons.
The 5-foot-10 Thacker delivered 36 assists and 11 digs as Fresno City defeated Porterville 3-0 in the Central Valley Conference finale game of the year, winning the conference title with a 10-0 season.
The team earned the No. 1 seed for the NorCal volleyball regional and defeated No. 16 seed Diablo Valley College (12-15) Nov. 20 at home in the first round of the state play-offs.
The Rams beat Gavilan 3-0 in the second round of the play-offs as Thacker had 36 assists and nine digs.
On Nov. 27, Thacker led her team with 50 assists as the No. 1 seed Rams beat Sierra College in the NorCal regional championship game, 25-22, 17-15, 11-25, 26-24, 15-13.
The win advanced the team to the state final four as the No. 2 seed in the tournament behind Los Angeles Pierce.
Thacker and the Rams faced the SoCal No. 3 seed Golden West Rustlers (23-3) of Huntington Beach at Fullerton College Dec. 2 in the double elimination tournament, losing in three games, 25-23, 25-17, 27-25.
Thacker had 21 assists and her All-American teammate Toni Murphy, a 5-foot-9 sophomore middle blocker from Madera, had nine kills.
The Rustlers had four 6-foot starters and finished the game with four players in double figures in kills.
The loss to Golden West, the Rams first in 23 matches, put the Rams into the losers bracket in the state tournament against Santa Rosa on Dec. 2.
Santa Rosa (27-3) defeated the Rams 25-16, 25-12, 25-21 knocking the Rams out of the state championship tournament. Thacker had 10 assists in the game. The Bear Cubs avenged an loss to the Rams in September.
The fourth place finish at the state tournament was the Ram's second-best finish in the school's history.
State leader in assists
Thacker finished the season as state's junior college leader in assists with 515 and was selected to the All-Conference and All-NorCal teams.
"I'm thankful to receive those honors," Thacker said. "I was motivated and dedicated this year and was willing to do all I could for the other 12 players on the team."
"Courtney displayed tremendous leadership qualities through our playoff run," Ainger-Schulte said. "Her competitive spirit helped her to deliver solid performances that led to much of our success this season."
Thacker said the Rams season was memorable and the team was made up of 13 "amazing volleyball players" and five coaches dedicated to making each player better.
"We were a selfless team and played hard for each other and that's what makes a great team," Thacker said. "We did not play as individuals -- We played as one team and proved how good we were by making it to the final four."
Thacker, who has had some offers to play next year from four-year schools, has not made a decision what school she will play for. Fresno State and Fresno Pacific are two of her options.
According to Susan Yates, FCC athletic director, in five years, the volleyball program has boasted four AVCA All-Americans, five All-State players, two All Tournament Team members at the State Tournament, five All-NorCal Players, and five conference MVPs.
In addition, the Rams Volleyball program has won five consecutive CVC Conference Titles, and the 2008 team still holds the single best record in school history , going undefeated in the Central Valley Conference and finishing third at the State Tournament.