Here is the first edition of the Volleyball Notes. Enjoy.
A couple of top-notch North Coast Section volleyball programs have seen changes at the top during the off-season, with some new coaches taking over at highly regarded schools.
Monte Vista High introduces Derek Phan as its new coach, as he takes over for Prima Elam and Las Lomas now has Sean Farlin on the bench instead of Christina Conroy.
While those are big changes, the biggest change happened at Miramonte High School.
The Matadors, who went 37-7 last year, were runner’s up in the NCS Division III playoffs and reached the NorCal semifinals in the state playoffs, will no longer have Chris Wells on the sidelines.
Wells, the Bay Area News Group’s East Bay coach of the year, has stepped down which has opened the door for a Miramonte graduate, Shannon Ross.
The 25-year old Ross, who graduated from MHS in 2002 where she lettered in volleyball for four years, served as an assistant to Wells last year.
“Certainly this is a transitional year,” Ross said. “But because I served as an assistant varsity coach last year, it has given me the tools for a smooth transition.”
The University of Oregon graduate knows she has some big shoes to fill and a lot is expected out of the Miramonte program this year.
“I do feel some pressure, any coach in my situation would,” Ross said. “We had an amazing year last year and I hope to follow it up with another great season.”
With seven returning key players, the Matadors should not only be favored to win the Diablo Foothill Athletic League, but reaching the NCS title game again should be within reach.
Miramonte enters the season ranked No. 2 in the Bay Area News Group’s East Bay Coaches poll. The team they are ranked behind, however, is another D III school. Bishop O’Dowd has the top spot, and the Dragons beat Miramonte in the championship match last year.
“I think we expect to do well,” Ross said. “We know we have a target on our backs and at times it will be tough but we are very, very hungry. Success for me would for me would be for all my players as individuals and then improve together as a team. But I would also like to get back to the NCS finals.”
One thing that will work in the favor of the Matadors is the return of last year’s DFAL MVP and Bay Area News Group East Bay player of the year, Juliana Stivanicevic.
Now in her senior season, the outside hitter and leader of the Mats should be even more of a tremendous force.
“Having a player like Juliana is very special,” Ross said. “She brings so much to our team. She has amazing talent, a tremendous heart and great leadership abilities. I think she can be a completely dominant player this year and I believe she can absolutely be the player of the year for the second year in a row.”
The admiration Ross has for Stivanicevic is shared by the star player as well, who is singing praise for the new coach.
“She’s amazing,” Stivanicevic said. “She brings such a positive energy into the gym and she’s a commanding presence. Everyone feeds off her energy and we expect great things.”
The Mats will also benefit from having a pair of fantastic setters in Mary Diamantidis and Sarah Vaccaro as well as other returning players like Haley Sayres.
Here is the Bay Area News Group East Bay Coaches pre-season volleyball poll. As you can see, Division III is well represented with NCS champion Bishop O’Dowd coming in at No. 1 and runner-up Miramonte snagging the No. 2 ranking.
Defending Division I champ San Ramon Valley graduated some key players, but are still being respected as the Wolves are ranked sixth with D I runner-up Granada sliding in at No. 8. Campolindo, a DFAL team that could challenge Miramonte, is ranked fifth. The Cougars were the D II runners-up last season.
The DFAL is well represented with Las Lomas at No. 12 and Acalanes at No. 15.
The top ranked East Bay Athletic League team is No. 3 Amador Valley, which returns the area’s top middle, Grace Vickers. Foothill (No. 7), Carondelet (No. 10), California (No. 13) and Monte Vista (No. 14) assure that the EBAL is well represented.
Deer Valley is highly ranked at No. 4 and should set the pace in the Bay Valley Athletic League, while Castro Valley (No. 9) should be the class of the Hayward Area Athletic League and Albany (No. 11) looks to remain the force in the Bay Shore Athletic League.
1. Bishop O’Dowd
3. Amador Valley
4. Deer Valley
6. San Ramon Valley
9. Castro Valley
12. Las Lomas
14. Monte Vista
Others receiving votes: Northgate, Piedmont, St. Mary’s, Mission San Jose, Berean Christian, Liberty, Logan.
Q&A with Juliana Stivanicevic
The volleyball community knows what a great player Miramonte’s Juliana Stivanicevic is, but let’s get to know here a little better. Here’s a little question and answer session.
How did you get into volleyball and why did it stick with you?
Juliana: As a kid I used to be a soccer player. I was the goalie and I hated it. So when I was in middle school, they had a tryout and I was cut. When I was in sixth grade, I didn’t even make the Diablo Club team, but by seventh grade I made Golden Bear. The game is just so much fun to play and to watch.
How will this season be considered a success by you?
Juliana: My goals are to win the league and NCS championship and I think we have the team to make a good run in the state playoffs this year. I have great teammates and I believe in them.
Anything personally that you’d like to accomplish?
Juliana: I would like to step up as a leader. I haven’t been in the position to be one of the older players on the team and now that I’m a senior I want to step into that role. I want to set the example for the team.
What is your favorite thing about volleyball?
Juliana: I love competing. I love to win.
What is your favorite thing to do on the court?
Juliana: Well, I’m not gonna lie and say that hitting someone in the face with a monster kill isn’t great, but I just love coming up with that really huge hit that gets everybody pumped up. Volleyball is a game that is very based on momentum and a huge hit can make that shift.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Juliana: My favorite movie of all time is The Godfather. I like the gangster movies. I love Scarface. I also love comedies like Wedding Crashers.
What do you listen to before a match and what do you like to listen to on your iPod?
Juliana: On our warmup CD we have stuff like E-40, Tech N9ne and Zion I. On my iPod I listen to a lot of Alternative Rock like The Fratelli’s, Franz Ferdinand and The Cataracs.