LM _______________________________________ ST. NORBERT OC

2014 GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW Experience, new head coach should be enough to turn around struggling program

By Loren Kopff

 JOHN GLENN LADY EAGLES         

6-20 overall last season, 2-10 in the Suburban League, sixth place

26-71 overall last five seasons

Head coach: Davion Jackson (first season)

Last time made the playoffs: 2009

Key losses: Myra Gomez, Mayra Ramirez

It has been five years since John Glenn experienced life in the postseason but former assistant coach Davion Jackson replaces David Cruz as the new guy in charge and already has plans of taking his team far away from the bottom of the Suburban League. Since their last trip to the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section playoffs, the Lady Eagles have won just 16 matches and have not finished above fifth place.

Jackson attributes the previous struggles to a lack of effort despite having talented players. He said the players saw that they wanted [to win] but didn’t know how to get it. The current boys volleyball coach, who has turned around that program the past few seasons, decided to take over for Cruz because of this season’s senior class.

“It feels the same,” Jackson said of coaching the girls. “I know all of these girls. Nothing really changes, so we just continue to roll with the punches.”

That senior class, all of whom are coming back, is among the best in the league and might even be the best with outside hitters Nicole Cruz and Leslie Larranaga, middle blocker Zahory Ramirez, opposite hitter Sonia Perez, setter Krysta Diaz and libero Kashmir Davies. Also returning is junior opposite hitter Stephanie Lemus, junior setter Chanel Villegas and sophomore setter Christina Dominguez. A shoulder injury last season has relegated Davies to becoming a libero. Two seasons ago, she shined as an outside hitter. Larranaga and Ramirez should get the majority of the points but don’t overlook Nicole Cruz, the younger sister of former Glenn standout Gabby Cruz.

Adding to the team as the top newcomer is junior middle blocker Erica Espinoza, a transfer from Gahr and with her size, the front line of Glenn’s squad is pretty big with three players standing at least 5’ 8”, one of whom is 5’ 10”. Lady Eagles.

“Compared from last year to this year, there are a lot more voices to be heard on the court,” Jackson said. “Last year there were times that we were begging for leadership, which is weird because we had a three-year starter. But this year seems a lot different. We have girls who have played volleyball year-round and know what to do.”

For Glenn to finish in the upper half of the league, something it has not done since 2002 when the team went 7-5 in league and came in third place, it needs to find a way to snap losing streaks of 25 matches to La Mirada, 22 matches to Cerritos, 10 matches to Mayfair and six matches to Norwalk. Those four figure to be in the hunt for a league title and with the exception of Norwalk, are consistent playoff teams. Jackson says the league should take notice on four, or more of his players instead of one or two.

“We’re not settling for fourth,” Jackson said. “We are pushing for first. We’ve seen a couple of the teams already in the summer league. We hung with them and some of them we’ve beat. Teams should watch out for us because we have girls who love volleyball and will do whatever it takes to take first. That’s what our goal is.”

 

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