Cougars Volleyball Team Faces Road Test to Begin New Season
by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
August 26, 2014
Veteran Taft College volleyball coach Kanoe Bandy and her 2014 team will have to earn their spurs as road warriors before plunging into Central Valley Conference action.
The cougars will play 10 matches and a tournament before making their debut before the home folks on Oct. 1.
TC has trips to Santa Maria, Ridgecrest, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Stockton and Saratoga before opening the conference also on the road at Porterville on Sept. 24.
“We are on the road the entire month of September,” Bandy said. “And we don’t have a scrimmage this season. I’d prefer to have a scrimmage before we start games.
Bandy who enters her 25th season as the Cougars’ volleyball boss, will take a balanced team on the road – but one that lacks height – with her to get ready for a tough Central Valley Conference grind. The Cougars finished third last season.
She has some big shoes to fill with the departure of outside hitters Tiffany Mapusaga and Haley Walrath and defensive specialist Lani kaiwi who made the All-CVC team before graduating.
The cougars don’t have the height Bandy would like so they’ll have to lean more heavily on the defense.
“There’s not a lot of height on this team but our individual skills are very good,” Bandy said. “I think we will be a very good defensive team. We’re going to have to run down balls and give our hitters some opportunities.”
Key returners: Chelsea Wong, 5-8 outside hitter and middle blocker; Sweet Vaimoui, 5-8 outside hitter; Maeleen Hopeau, 5-9 middle; and Kaylynn Palama, a 5-5 setter.
“Our sophomores have worked very hard in the off-season to get stronger,” Bandy said. “I think we are going to depend heavily on our sophomores – especially early in the season.
Wong, Vaimoui and Hopeau are all capable of working the middle or outside. Palama was a bit rusty the first two weeks of drill after missing spring practice because of an injury but is regaining her spark. “We will depend on her experience in running our offense,” Bandy said.
Key newcomers: Setter Madeline Griffith (Escondido), defensive specialists Halle Neher (Taft High) and Kamalani Kahele (Hawaii), outside hitter Kia Kaaihue, middle blocker Nalani Kekuawela (Hawaii), outside hitters Baillie Jensen (Escondido) and Kaila Haslam (Cuyama Valley) and middle Irene Rodriguez (Highland High/Bakersfield.)
Non-conference: Aug. 27 at Hancock, Aug. 30 at Cerro Coso (Ridgecrest), Sept. 3 vs. Sacramento and Foothill at Los Altos Hills, Sept. 5 vs San Joaquin Delta and De Anza at Cupertino, Sept. 12-13 San Joaquin Delta tournament, Sept 17 vs Shasta, Santa Rosa and West Valley at Saratoga.
All home matches begin at 6 p.m. except Columbia on Oct. 1 when the first serve is at 5 p.m.
Conference: Sept. 24 at Porterville, Oct. 1 Columbia, Oct. 3 Sequoias, Oct. 8 Fresno, Oct 10 West Hills, Oct. 15 at Merced, Oct. 17 Reedley, Oct. 22 Porterville, Oct 29 at Columbia, Oct. 31 at Sequoias, Nov. 3 at Fresno, Nov. 7 at West Hills, Nov. 12 Merced, Nov. 14 at Reedley.