Lady Rams hope improvement continues in 2009
GILROY — Finishing third the previous two seasons in the Coast Conference and falling one victory short of the Northern California playoffs last year, the Gavilan women’s volleyball team has a collective chip on its shoulder heading into the 2009 campaign.
The Rams have improved over the last four seasons, leaping from 1-18 in 2005 to 16-11 a year ago. Coach Kevin Kramer said that the progression and development of his team is continuing down a positive and winning path.
“I think we are a little further along than we were last year,” Kramer said. “We are returning a lot of the kids from last year. I’ve had a couple tough holes to fill, but I think we have done a good job filling those holes.”
Kramer got a good look at his squad Wednesday afternoon when the Rams participated in a seven-team scrimmage in Concord.
“It went really well,” he said. “We worked out a lot of our kinks and we were able to get everything on track.”
The Rams’ biggest loss from a year ago is that of two-time first-team All-Conference pick Teresa Hodges, who now plays at Post University in Connecticut.
One spot that doesn’t need replacing is outside hitter. That position is filled by sophomore Bri Romero, who last year set a single-season team record for digs with 418 on her way to first-team All-Conference selection.
“In my opinion, she is one of the leading candidates for league MVP this year,” Kramer said. “She is definitely one of the leaders on this team.”
Joining Romero on the offensive front are returning sophomores Arica Hernandez, who stands 6-foot-1, Cheyenne Hambey, who set a career-best last season with 42 blocks, and 5-foot-10 Tessa Fischer.
The Rams’ 6-4 league mark last year put them behind perennial powers Cabrillo College and West Valley College in the standings, two programs Kramer expects to be strong once again.
“Cabrillo has been the top dog the past couple of years and I imagine they will be the team to beat this year, but they graduated a lot of players and they may be a team we could go and get.”
West Valley knocked Gavilan out of playoff contention in the last game of the 2008 season, providing the Rams with some extra motivation.
“West Valley is a team that we haven’t been able to get over the hump with,” Kramer said. “The past couple of years we have come up a little short against them. It should be a tight race all the way through.”
Gavilan’s season begins at 1 p.m. at Feather River College. Coast Conference play kicks off Oct. 14 against Chabot College.