By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Natalie Rivas, Bonita, Sr.
Bonita High School has become a pretty good girls water polo factory in recent years. The Bearcats have made three trips to the finals since 2009, winning once, and fielded some of the area’s best players.
You can add Rivas to that list. She ranked among the leaders in scoring and keyed the Bearcats to their fourth consecutive Hacienda League crown. For her efforts, Rivas is Tribune Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.
For Rivas, while not winning a division title was disappointing, she also enjoyed the experience she had with her teammates.
“Going into the season we, as a team, decided we wanted to try and play as many games as possible,” Rivas said. “So I’m glad we got to play in CIF and give the younger girls a chance to play in CIF and learn how to play in those games, which are high-intense games.
“I’m really happy. I love my team and it was a great experience.”
Rivas, along with junior Erin Gonzalez, keyed the run to a fourth consecutive Hacienda League title, scoring 100 goals. But she was also one of the better passers in the area, a solid defender and a good team leader.
“She is just a terrific all-around player and athlete,” Bonita coach Andy Rosenberg said. “I’ve had the good fortune of coaching a lot of good players over the years, and she’s one of the best I’ve had the privilege of coaching. It’s because of skill, but also game sense. She’s going to be really hard to replace.”
Rivas, a three-time All-CIF-SS player, now takes her game to Virginia Military Institute, of Lexington, Va., and she can’t wait.
“I’m really excited I’m getting the chance to play college water polo,” said Rivas, who was first team All-Division 4 and Hacienda League MVP this season. “VMI is a great school, and I’m glad they want me.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Andy Rosenberg, Bonita
Rosenberg is arguably the top coach in the area, leading the Bonita boys program to the CIF-SS finals three times during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and guiding the girls program to a title in 2009 and to the finals in 2011 and 2012. The Bearcats advanced to the semifinals in 2013 and to the quarterfinals this past season.
Bonita was 20-10, ranked near the top of Division 4 all season and won the Hacienda League for the fourth consecutive season.
The season was a lot of fun,” said Rosenberg, whose Bearcats lost to eventual division champion La Serna in the quarterfinals. “The girls — it’s cliche, but it’s actually true — worked hard, stayed together very well. It was a very enjoyable group to coach.
“This was my 20th year coaching, and I had much fun. It was as easy a team to work with as any of them.”
Bonita, after going 8-0 to win the Hacienda League, opened the playoffs with a 6-5 win over Oxnard, before losing, 9-8, to La Serna in overtime.
“It was disappointing to lose in the quarterfinals,” Rosenberg said. “We had hopes to go farther, for sure.”
HILARY ADKINS, ST. LUCY’S JUNIOR
Adkins was a key player for the Regents, who once again were one of the area’s best, finishing second in the rugged Sierra League and advancing two rounds in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. Adkins was first team All-CIF-SS Division 3 and first team All-Sierra League.
ERIN GONZALEZ, BONITA, JUNIOR
Gonzalez played a major role in Bonita scoring its fourth consecutive Hacienda League title, and going 20-10 with a trip to the CIF-SS Division 4 quarterfinals. She ranked among the scoring leaders in the area and earned first team All-Division 4 and All-Hacienda League. She teamed with Natalie Rivas to form arguably the top offensive tandem in the area.
RACHEL GARWICK, BONITA, SOPHOMORE
Garwick was solid in goal for the Bearcats and played her part in Bonita going 20-10 and winning its fourth consecutive Hacienda League title. She saved her best efforts when it counted most, getting eight saves in a first-place showdown at Los Altos in February and five against Walnut, also in February. She was first team All-Hacienda League.
BROOKE CONTRERAS, LOS ALTOS, FRESHMAN
Contreras, whose older sister, Stephanie, and brother, Justin, earned respective player of year selections in recent seasons, lived up to the family name with a solid freshman season. She helped Los Altos to a 17-15 record and their second consecutive trip to the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals. She was first team All-Division 4 and first team All-Hacienda League.
EMILY MENA, LOS ALTOS, SENIOR
Mena was a key piece for the Conquerors, who finished second in the Hacienda League and advanced to the Division 4 semifinals for the second consecutive season. She formed a solid scoring tandem with freshman Brooke Contreras. She finished strong, scoring four goals in a 12-5 loss to Troy in the semifinals. She was first team All-Hacienda League.
CHEYENNE WONG, SAN DIMAS, SR.
Wong was the pivotal player for the Saints, who finished 15-11 and shared the Valle Vista League title with Wilson. She proved to be an asset as a scorer and distributer from her hole position. She shared Valle Vista League co-MVP honors with Wilson’s Stephanie Gonzalez.
STEPHANIE GONZALEZ, WILSON, SR.
Gonzalez keyed the Wildcats run to a share of the Valle Vista League title with San Dimas. They were 15-10 and lost in the first round of the Division 7 playoffs. She ranked among the league leaders in points, including scoring 53 goals. She shared league MVP honors with San Dimas’ Cheyenne Wong.
Danielle De Herrera, Bonita, Jr.
Elizabeth Cruz, West Covina, Jr.
Rachel Ramos, Rowland, Sr.
Rocky Gonzalez, Walnut, Sr.
Christine Hu, Walnut, Sr.
Joslyn Cuevas, Glendora, Sr.
Kelly Leathers, Glendora, Sr.
1. Bonita (20-10)
2. Los Altos (17-15)
3. St. Lucy’s (20-9)
4. Charter Oak (19-8)
5. Walnut (10-14)
6., tie, San Dimas (15-11)
6., tie, Wilson (15-10)
8. Glendora (8-12)
9. Rowland (9-9)
10. La Puente (8-9)
Baseline: Los Osos
Valle Vista: San Dimas/Wilson