Girls Volleyball: Top 10 and season preview

Above: Allie LaPierre is expected to lead a very good Bonita team this season.

Are you ready for some volleyball?
Here’s my season outlook story. And tonight is a big top-10 meeting between No. 2 St. Lucy’s and No. 6 Los Altos.

By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
This could be a special year for the Bonita High School girls volleyball team. The Bearcats, who have advanced to the CIF-Southern Section divisional semifinals and quarterfinals the past two seasons, are expected to make similar runs this fall with a returning class that features three of the top players in the area. “I’m very excited to have practically all the starters from last year returning,” Bonita coach Adriana Contreras said. “It does look promising. We are training very hard to get everyone physically prepared to compete against top teams.

“With powerhouse Allie LaPierre, Katie Kirby and stud setter Ashley Maxfeldt we are sure to give teams a run for their money.”

It starts with senior outside hitter LaPierre, who has committed to UCLA and played for the USA under-19 Beach Training Team this summer. But the Bearcats, who began the season ranked No. 1 in the area and No. 3 in CIF-SS 3-AA, also feature junior Kirby, who is a solid option at outside hitter, and Maxfeldt, considered one of the top passers in the area.

The Bearcats’ attack will also include middle blockers Vicky Dennis and Lauren Mierke.

“Expectations are always set high,” Contreras said. “These girls are very talented and I’m hopeful we will finish on top.”

Bonita (17-8 in 2008), which has shared or won outright the Miramonte League title the past two seasons, will again be challenged by rival Los Altos.

“Bonita is a lot

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like us,” first-year Los Altos coach Jaime Ornelas said. “We both have future college athletes. It will be a duel.

“I can’t say they will win (league), I can’t say we will win, but it’s going to be a show.”

The rest of the area is expected to produce similar fireworks. Here’s the rest of the top 10:

No. 2 St. Lucy’s (19-9)

The Regents have advanced to the quarterfinals each of the past two seasons and have the potential to make it a three-peat this season.

Spiker Tara Prater is gone, but they return a solid nucleus, including All-Sierra Leaguer Deanna Dalton and Megan Callen at outside hitter and sophomore setter Jackie Macy.

St. Lucy’s, which begins the season ranked No. 5 in 2-AA, is expected to challenge for the Sierra League title, along with Chino Hills and Glendora.

No. 3 Walnut (25-6)

The Mustangs should challenge rival South Hills for supremacy in the San Antonio League.

Walnut, which advanced two rounds in the playoffs last season, features a strong returning class that is led by middle blocker Samantha Sheller and libero Deliliah Arenas. The Mustangs, ranked No. 6 in 2-AA, also feature setter Leau Quiocho and outside hitter Gabriella Carreathers.

“Our expectations are high,” said co-head coach Mark Mcelroy. “We return quite a few starters and we look to have a successful year.

“With South Hills, our league is always difficult. We have a nice little rivalry, and it usually comes down to them and ourselves.”

No. 4 South Hills (19-6)

The Huskies have been one of the most-consistent programs in the area the past decade and they will again challenge for a league title and postseason success.

South Hills, ranked No. 7 in 2-AA, feature a good returning class that is led by reigning area Player of the Year Melinda Gomez.

No. 5 Glendora (20-9)

The Tartans were one of the most-improved units last year and are expected to challenge in the the always competitive Sierra League.

Glendora, which finished third, one game back of co-champs St. Lucy’s and Diamond Bar last season, are led by seniors Valerie Brain and Erin Noriega.

No. 6 Los Altos (5-13)

The Conquerors shared the Miramonte League title two years ago, but struggled during the nonleague season before tying for second in 2008.

A repeat of 2007 is more likely this season for Los Altos, which is now coached by Ornelas.

The Conquerors are led by senior Meagan Macias and juniors Amanda Brown and Jazmen Russell. Setter Erica Chavez will also be key.

“We are very well rounded with experienced players,” Ornelas said. “We have three girls who went to the junior Olympics. We expect to play as a team, not individuals with only one star player.

“The schedule is tough, but we’re up for the challenge. The girls have worked hard and have handled a tough transition and are coming around.”

No. 7 Diamond Bar (19-5)

The Brahmas were hit hard by graduation, but could still make some noise in the Sierra League.

Diamond Bar, which has advanced to the playoffs the past two seasons, is led by junior outside hitter Kathleen Torres, Morgan Bender and setter Carliza Valencia.

No. 8 Charter Oak (18-7)

The Chargers lost some key players from a successful 2008. But there’s still enough in the cupboard to be effective.

Charter Oak, which lost two all-league players to graduation, are expected to be led by defenders Vianna Delgado and Brittany Hodura and setter Jackie Medina.

No. 9 San Dimas (16-5)

The Saints have ruled the Valle Vista League the past two seasons, and they should challenge again this year.

San Dimas begins the season ranked No. 10 in Division 3-A.

No. 10 Gladstone (13-12)

The Gladiators had their string of consecutive league championships end last season. But they should return to glory this fall.

Gladstone, which begins the season ranked No. 8 in Division IV-A, is led by Lesette Beckers and Marissa Flores.

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2296

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