After an amazing 2012 season, a No. 7 national ranking, and a share of the South Coast Conference Championship, the PCC womenâ€™s volleyball team is prepared and enthusiastic for the upcoming 2013 season.
In his first year as interim head coach, Bill Sanchez looks to build on last yearâ€™s successful season that ended just short of a regional championship.
Led by returning outside hitters Nora Toâ€™omalatai, nursing, and Thula Parks, mathematics, this yearâ€™s team will rely heavily on Toâ€™omalatai and Parksâ€™ ability to adjust to new leadership roles, as well as the development of this yearâ€™s freshmen class.
â€œI donâ€™t feel my role has really changed from last year, Iâ€™m still playing the same position,â€ Toâ€™omalatai said. â€œEverything is basically the same. Iâ€™m more of the lead by example type, and Iâ€™m not that much of a talkative person so I leave that up to Thula.â€
With the loss of 2012 All-State Selection Jackie Valle-Acosta, and five of last yearâ€™s six starters, thereâ€™s no doubt that this young team will depend on Toâ€™omalataiâ€™s leadership and success.
Last year the athletic Toâ€™omalatai led the Lancers (21-5 overall,13-1 conference) with 3.02 kills per set, which also ranked her third in the South Coast Conference.
First year assistant coach Kari Post has seen major improvements in both Toâ€™omalatai and Parks and is eager for them to showcase their talents.
â€œNora and Thula have gotten a hundred times better since weâ€™ve started training this season,â€ Post said. â€œIâ€™m really excited for those two ladies, they just need to keep their good attitudes and keep being positive examples on and off the court.â€
For Parks, the more vocal and inspirational leader of the team, encouraging and challenging her teammates is something sheâ€™s already known around the courts for.
â€œI like to talk and try to help lead the team,â€ Parks said. â€œI like to help lead the team in a way that makes everyone comfortable on the court. It helps when everyone is playing on the court together as a family.â€
For Parks, her production will also be relied upon a little more this year. While only a freshman she averaged 1.33 kills per set behind a cast of all-conference hitters in Toâ€™omalatai, Valle-Acosta and Magen Callen.
â€œTo improve from last year we just have to work on our chemistry and everything else will fall into place,â€ Parks said. â€œWe just all need to sustain that passion of the game that we all love, and if we keep that passion and grow together we can take this team a long way.â€
Both Parks and Toâ€™omalatai are expected to contribute to this yearâ€™s team, but in order for this team to make another run into the postseason, the freshmen class will have to continue to grow.
â€œThis yearâ€™s freshman class is really strong and weâ€™re going to have a lot of new and different techniques that the ladies now know,â€ Post said. â€œWeâ€™re going to be a whole new team compared to last year; other teams wonâ€™t know what to expect.â€
â€œA lot of the freshmen have gotten a lot better since the beginning of practices,â€ Toâ€™omalatai added. â€œItâ€™s been surprising how much the freshmen have improved since theyâ€™ve stepped on the court here.â€
â€œTo improve from last year we just have to work hard as a team, become closer, and that will happen as the season progresses,â€ Toâ€™omalatai said. â€œWe just lost height, but weâ€™re still a good team.â€
And because of that loss of height, assistant coach Post expects this team to be very defensive oriented.
â€œWeâ€™re a very good passing team that plays good defense, thatâ€™s how weâ€™re going to make up for our lack of height this year,â€ Post said. â€œWeâ€™re going to be constantly sending the ball back over when teams arenâ€™t expecting us to.â€
The womenâ€™s volleyball season kicks off on the road, this Friday, Sept. 6th against Rio Hondo College.