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2013 Foothill League girls volleyball preview: New players, same look

Posted: September 30, 2013 10:30 p.m.
Updated: September 30, 2013 10:30 p.m.

Hart junior setter Erin Indermill is in her third year as a starter on varsity.

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If the strength of the Foothill League were to be based solely on the number of returning starters, it would be a rough year for girls volleyball in the Santa Clarita Valley.

But a lot of these teams could beg to differ with the amount of young, emerging talent all around the valley.

No Foothill team has appeared on the top 10 CIF-Southern Section Division IA rankings, but that lack of recognition won’t keep these teams from what sets up as another highly contentious league season.

The common phrases coaches are using this year are “young team,” “lots of juniors,” and “plenty of potential.” That can describe just about every team in league.

Only one player who made either of The Signal’s All-Santa Clarita Valley first or second team last year is returning.

Valencia may be the defending champions, but at this point it looks like its anyone’s league.

Valencia

Because the Valencia Vikings are the incumbent champions in the Foothill League, winning 10 of the last 11 league titles, it’s unrealistic to count the Vikings out of another potential league crown.

There will be several questions to answer along the way though.

For one, who is going to replace two of the best players in the league in Delaney Knudsen and Sierra Sanchez, who graduated and both moved on to NCAA Division I sand volleyball teams?

A lot of the burden will fall on the three returning starters, who are all juniors.

The main outside hitters are Emily Bible and Lindsey Knudsen, Delaney’s younger sister. They’ll be joined by 6-foot-2 middle blocker and fellow returning junior Teresa Cernosek.

Other than that, it’s a lot of sophomores and juniors who are learning the varsity game.

“We’ve been what you’d expect,” said Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez. “Spectacular at times and inconsistent at other times, so we’re still looking for consistency.”

Valencia (8-3) has some impressive wins on its resume already even with the general inexperience.

The 6-foot-2 sophomore Emily Burns playing opposite and junior Hayley Alvarez has been solid as the starting setter. Both Bible and sophomore Demi Dawson are sharing time filling in at libero after presumptive starter Kaity Uythoven went down with a torn ACL last spring. She will likely miss the entire season, Sanchez said.

West Ranch

No team knows better than the West Ranch Wildcats how close it came to winning league a year ago.

But Valencia came from behind to beat West Ranch in the Foothill League finale and the Wildcats had to settle for second.

The good news is West Ranch will get another crack at it with the most experience of any Foothill team.

Dynamic senior outside hitter Alexis Clewis comes back after being named to the All-Foothill first team last year. That makes her the only first or second-teamer in the league returning.

She also committed to Gonzaga University in July.

On the defensive side, the Wildcats are as solid as anyone with four-year varsity libero and University of Virginia-bound Haley Lind on hand.

And in the middle, junior Hannah Williams is another strong returning player.

“We’ve got a group of really good girls that are going to make this team very solid and if we play the way we’ve shown in the past I think we can make some damage this year,” said West Ranch head coach Gerrit Maxwell.

West Ranch (3-3) will have to replace graduated setter Carly Carapella, and the team is doing so with two players splitting time in junior Haylee Fricke and Camille Kafesjian.

Those two will have a bevy of offensive weapons at their disposal, including Clewis, senior outside Brooke Garelick and senior opposite Kendall Myers.

“I’m excited about the depth of our team that when somebody struggles and we make switches, there’s not a whole lot of drop off,” Maxwell said.

Hart

Though the summer began with a lot of uncertainty for the Hart Indians, things are starting to fall into place.

After graduating five key starters from the 2012 team that finished tied with West Ranch for second place in league, Hart and a strong group of juniors are once again looking like a contender in a league full of parity this season.

“The only thing that might be a challenge for us is trying to get their volleyball IQ up to speed,” said Hart head coach Mary Keen. “But you know what, these girls give so much effort and they really, really want it.”

The most experienced player for the Indians — and the only returning starter — is junior and third-year varsity setter Erin Indermill.

She’ll be running an offense led by fellow juniors Chase Tengberg and Corrine Holloway, who will be the team’s go-to outside hitters.

Holloway has been taking most of the reps at that position so far as Tengberg recovers from a knee injury suffered in the summer, though Tengberg should return to the court soon.

Some of the sets will also go to a pair middle blockers with lots of potential in sophomore Brooke Boron and junior Claire Cansler.

At libero, Hart (6-5) has given junior Shelly Peer the difficult task of filling in for now-graduated Katie Baker, a 2012 All-CIF selection in Southern Section Division IA. She’ll be helped out defensively by senior Hayden Harker, a transfer from West Ranch.

Saugus

Yet another team with a lot of potential but also one that has had its share of growing pains, the Saugus Centurions are not to be overlooked this year.

After Zach Ambrose coached the team for eight years and led Saugus to a Foothill League title in 2011 — the only time Valencia didn’t win in the last 11 years — former Valencia assistant Eric Luckenbach takes over as head coach this season.

He inherited a talented group of young hitters led by junior middle Sam Nua, junior opposite Amy Buffham and senior opposite Montana Shepard.

All three are new to the starting lineup.

The experienced starters on the team are junior Julianna Dole and senior captain Makena Wasserman, who started at outside hitter last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Dole was the team’s libero a year ago, but she’s converted to a hybrid defense/setter position for the time being. The full-time starting setter may eventually be Canyon High junior transfer Robyn Underwood, who is finishing her mandatory 30-day sit out period per CIF transfer rules.

Whoever steps into the position will be replacing four-year starter and 2012 All-Santa Clarita Valley first-teamer Ashley Guthrie.

Junior Chelsea Corn appears to be in line for the starting libero job.

“We feel like we’ve had a lot of growth in those past two and a half weeks,” Luckenbach said of the season so far.

Saugus is 8-8 with tournament matches included.

Canyon

This Canyon Cowboys team might resemble the 2010 squad more than 2012.

That’s mostly because almost the entire lineup is different from last year and the head coach is once again Brian Ingino, who coached Canyon from 2005-2010 before stepping down.

After a two-year layoff, Ingino is back with a team that has just two returning starters.

Those returners are senior middle blocker Sayo Akao and junior Sara Greenland, who is making the transition from libero to outside hitter this season.

All-SCV second-team outside hitter Lauren Underwood graduated and her younger sister Robyn transferred to Saugus, leaving the Cowboys (2-8) with even more key positions to replace.

“A lot of them are young, so it’s just kind of getting them in, getting them play time and seeing who’s on that day,” Ingino said.
Seniors Adriana Van Grinsven and Kelli Schmidt are the team’s main offensive weapons after both played limited time on varsity last year.

The starting setter is junior Hannah Wilken, who is entirely new to varsity. Senior Megan Bleiler will play libero.

Golden Valley

First-year Golden Valley Grizzlies head coach Derek Saenz simply wants the team to get better.

That’s what it will take for Golden Valley to get out of last place in league, where it finished last year.

“We just have some younger athletes that we’re just trying to turn into better volleyball players,” said Saenz, who took over for three-year head coach Jeff Cody.

One of the returners is senior libero Mariah Matteson, who will be joined by junior newcomer and middle blocker Cherokee Cardriche.

Cardriche is also a varsity basketball player at the school. She is brand new to volleyball.

The Grizzlies (1-4) also have junior Denver Spencer playing outside hitter and senior Juliet Gunn playing opposite and setter while the team’s starting setter Courtney Molina recovers from a knee injury.

Also dealing with an ankle injury is talented sophomore middle Nereida Meza. Saenz said both players should be back in the coming weeks.

 

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