Although Yosemite High volleyball coach Michele Chenowith has five experienced players returning for their senior year - Dainya Debock, Kailei Gould, Shelby Biscaglio, Autumn Mitchell, and Hannah Morrison, the season could be challenging after losing four senior starters to graduation.
Last year the team had an overall record of 15-13, finishing second in the North Sequoia League at 7-3, two wins behind Sierra, who won the league championship. The team, with seniors Taylor Burral, Bree Lewis, Andiee Ellis, Barbara Gonzales, was seeded No. 7 in the CIF Central Section D-III playoffs. Yosemite lost to No. 2 seed San Joaquin Memorial in the quarter-final round (25-22, 25-11, 25-23), after beating the Sunnyside Wildcats in round one (20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 26-16).
This year’s team looks to build on last year’s success, with hopes of winning the league title.
In addition to the five seniors, the team will be helped with the strong play of sophomore Siena Oswald, who returns for her second year on the varsity team.
“Siena is a great all-around player but she is injured right now and is out for a minimum of two more weeks,” Chenowith said.
Seven sophomores, six who were part of last year’s JV team that went 7-3 in league, have been moved up to varsity by Chenowith - Rachel Loveland, Savannah Bohna, Tiffany Cacy, Hannah Hurtado, Karee Smith, Alli Ruiz, and Samantha Rockey. Rockey is a transfer and is currently in the middle of the CIF sit-out period, not eligible to play until league play begins at Kerman on Oct. 6.
“All our players are very talented and I am having a blast working with them,” Chenowith said. “This group of girls had a very successful club season and they know how to win. Some early injuries have affected us but hopefully the girls will heal completely and quickly.”
Chenowith said the team will receive strong leadership from captains Gould, Debock, Biscaglio. and Cacy.
Team setters are Cacy and Rockey, with Cacy taking full reins of the team until Rockey completes her sit-out period.
“Our talented middles are Karee (Smith), Dainya (Debock), and Rachel (Loveland),” Chenowith said. “All of them have a great attack at the net.”
Outside players are Gould, Oswald, and Bohna.
“Savannah (Bohna) has the big gun attack, and we will looking for big things from her this year,” Chenowith said.
The coach called Gould a key player in Badger defense along with other defensive specialists Biscaglio, Ruiz, and Hurtado.
Right side hitters are Hurtado, and Mitchell.
“They are well versed on stepping into set when needed, rounding out the offensive line, and blocking shots of opponents big hitters,” Chenowith said.
The team scrimmaged Hoover High Friday and Chenowith liked what she saw.
“It is always nice to see the girls play in a game-like situation early in the season,” Chenowith said. “We can practice against ourselves but it is not quite the same as playing against an opponent. I am very excited about what I saw with our players at the scrimmage. Some things went very well and some aspects of the game still need some work. The girls felt good after the scrimmage so hopefully they can take that confidence into our first matches.”
The team to beat in league this season is long-time rival Sierra, who has its entire league championship team back from last year.
“No school in the NSL is going to be easy ... they all have talent and every school in our league now has a year-round program,” Chenowith said.
Chenowith, who has taught math at YHS for 22 years, returns to coaching after taking three years off while serving as the school’s athletic director. She turned that position over to Rusty Oetinger this year to allow her to coach again.
Her teams have won outright or tied for the NSL or CSL league titles five times, and her Badger teams won CIF Central Section D-III titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001.
Assisting Chenowith this season is Trudi Cacy. The JV coach is Tricia Ruiz, back after taking a few years off. Freshman team coaches are Stephanie Pardue, and Kristen Kernaghan.