A somewhat shorter high school girls volleyball season began Sept. 21 at schools across the state. West Valley Preps and Goodyear Independent asked local high school coaches about their teams. Here are the responses from the three teams that reached the state finals last year:
Coach: Jennifer Gonzales (sixth year)
2019 Record: 31-4 (4A runners up)
Region: 4A Southwest
Top returning players: Our top returners are senior setter Nayeli Mancilla, who brings so much experience and stability to the game. Junior outside hitter Emma Barber who is a solid six-rotation player who brings her leadership and power to the team.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? The newcomers who may contribute right away are sophomore Angela Bawek an outside hitter who really improved with her total game. Sophomore setter Raegan Moran and incoming freshman middle blocker Aubrey Goodere are looking to step into roles right away.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? One of the strongest parts of our game is offense. We seem to have many players who can contribute and put the ball away.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? Because of the uncertainty we have faced with high school sports, I dont think there is a particular match that stands out. We are looking forward to all of them but taking it one day at a time, because we don't know if that could be the last match of the season.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? We want to be competitive with every team we face. We work on consistency and the ability to side out quickly.
Coach: Julie Vastine (Seventh season)
2019 Record: 35-9 (5A runners up)
Region: 5A Desert West
Top returning players: Jordan Miller, Eryn Jones, Bianca Perez, Jocelyn Chavez Rivas and Olivia Flanagan.
Who are some of the newcomers that may have an impact this year? Junior Charlotte Goto and freshmen Talea Mitchell and Rosa Collier.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Team connectedness. We have strong leaders on our team, and they are doing an amazing job at embracing our younger inexperienced girls, and merging them into our culture.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? We are looking forward to playing Sunrise Mountain and Cactus Shadows this year.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? Improve our level of play each time we set foot on the court and we'd like to play deep into the state playoffs and be playing on the last date of AIA volleyball playoffs.
Coach: Jenna Hope (fifth year)
2019 Record: 37-7 (3A champions)
Region: 3A North Central
Who are your top returning players: Reagan Hope, Molly Kipp, Kierstyn Barton, McKenzie Wise (back from injury) and Jadeyn Shaw
Who are some varsity newcomers that may have an impact this year? Taylor Vandertoorn is a freshman that will be our starting middle. She is new to the position, but improves every day and can make an impact this season.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our best attributes this year are experience and competitiveness. We have eight seniors that have played at a high level for years and three of our starters are going to play at NCAA Division 1 programs. The girls also have a competitive spirit which causes them to push each other to become better as well as hold each other accountable.
Which teams on this season’s schedule are you most looking forward to and will be the toughest? We are really disappointed that we are not able to play in tournaments this year. We always look forward to the challenge of playing bigger schools. On our schedule this year I feel that Valley Christian and Scottsdale Christian will be tough. They have a strong program and there is a great rivalry there.
What are the primary goals for this year’s team? Our main goal this year is to win state. Our seniors would really love to have a three-peat. Another goal is to push ourselves to finish the season undefeated. This will be tough, but I think it is a good challenge. But the goal we focus on the most is that we are a team of high character. We want to grow as players and people throughout the season.