Coach Michele Chenowith’s Yosemite High volleyball team (25-3) played its last non-league games last week, beating Dos Palos (25-12, 25-11, 25-12) and San Joaquin Memorial (25-20, 25-18, 25-14), in preparation for its Sept. 29 North Sequoia League matchup with the undefeated Liberty Hawks (22-0).
The JV game is at 5 p.m. - varsity at 6:30.
The Hawks are currently ranked No. 19 in the Central Section by the Fresno Bee (No. 1 in D-IV) - while the Bee has the Badgers ranked at No. 20 in the section (No. 3 in D-III).
The Badgers, playing without a senior on the team, do not rely on one or two star players, but posses plenty of depth with nine juniors and four sophomores.
The Hawks, coached by Brandon St. Lucia, have three seniors - 5-foot-11 Tiffany Herron, 5-foot-3 Kaylee White, and 5-foot-2 Taylor Sefton - with two of the team’s standout players being juniors - 6-foot Hannah Chase and 5-foot-7 Madison Devine.
Sefton was the NSL Defensive Play of the Year last season, and both Devine and Chase were named to the All-League team. Yosemite’s Savannah Bohna was the sole Badger named to last year’s All-League team.
Liberty recently won the championship in the Madera Classic Volleyball Tournament Sept. 17, with Chase and Devine being named to the All-Tourney team.
“I expect Thursday’s game to be a tough, close game,” St. Lucia said. “Every year we go up to Yosemite and it’s a battle. We have not played well up there the past two years but this year we plan to make it a very competitive game.”
As a teacher in the Madera Unified School District, St. Lucia is disappointed he will not be able to attend Thursday’s game due to a commitment to a three-day teacher’s conference in Southern California.
“Even though I can’t be there, I have total faith in this team and my assistant coach Jesus Pineda,” St. Lucia said.
Chenowith credits the Hawks for being a good team and said her team is looking forward to playing them.
Two more wins
Siena Oswald led the team against SJM with 10 kills on offense and 17 point-saving digs on defense.
Other defensive standouts were Hannah Hurtado and Bailey Hullender with 15 and 10 digs respectively.
Sayda Taylor added 11 kills, and four blocks and Bohna recorded eight kills. Karee Smith had seven kills and two blocks.
Tiffany Cacy had 18 assist and three aces serves and Jordyn Jackson added eight assists.
Against Dos Palos, Taylor had 15 kills and Smith, Chloe Duke and Bohna have five. Cacy and Sammie Rockey recorded 14 and 12 assists respectively. Alli Ruiz had nine digs.
JV team improves to 17-2
Like the varsity team, Tricia Ruiz’s Badger JV team also beat Dos Palos (25-13, 15-21, 15-8) and SJM (25-14, 18-25, 15-7) last week, giving the team a 17-2 win/loss record for the season.
The varsity and JV team’s combined win/loss record for the season is now at 42-5.
Against Dos Palos, Isabelle Magee had a game high 14 assists and Madison Ayala had two service aces and five digs.
In the SJM game Alyssa Airey recorded five kills and three digs and Tehya Abrahams had three service aces and 15 good serves.
In the Madera South Tournament last Saturday, the Badgers took first in the Silver Bracket with just one loss on the day.
“Our team is learning to keep the momentum up on our side of the court,” Chenowith said. “We have had some slips on a few games that have left us short of the win but these are all learning experiences so I am confident we will continue to grow as we head into our season.”