It was just a season ago when an upstart Mission San Jose High boys volleyball team took down North Coast Section giants De La Salle and Deer Valley on their way to reaching a Division I final.
Despite losing to Foothill in the finals, the Warriors ended up with the most successful season in school history after finishing as the Division I runners-up, and the Mission Valley Athletic League champions.
Now, Mission San Jose is on the map as a boys volleyball program to contend with.
And despite losing a few key pieces from the 2009 installment, the Warriors are probably the favorite again in the MVAL, and have a chance to make another run in the playoffs.
“Repeating will be tough,” Mission San Jose coach Dan Kwon said. “Our league this year is competitive and both Washington and Logan have very good teams. Our goal will be to play to our strengths and maintain our offensive balance. The key is to pull this off successfully and if we manage to, then it makes us hard to stop.”
The Warriors will have to replace a few key pieces, namely setter Dan Yang, outside hitter Seewing Yee, middle Daniel Fan and libero Anthony Chao. But with returning seniors Sam Shir, Sid Parihar and big middle Will Klepac, they have plenty of returning talent.
Jeffrey Kanemitsu has taken over as the setter, Michael Wang is stepping up on the outside and Evan Chua is playing well at libero.
With several options, this team might be even more potent offensively.
“In general, we are more balanced offensively than last year’s team,” Kwon said. “We have at least two players who can sideout in every rotation. Developing offensive consistency will be important for any potential playoff run.”
And will that playoff run end with another run to the NCS finals, or perhaps bring that the school’s first championship? The leadership of several key returning players might just be enough.
“Reaching the finals last year was a memorable experience for all the players, coaches and fans,” Kwon said. “Beyond the obvious satisfaction of the experience itself, it was the validation of their effort and hard work all season long. For our program, hanging our first ever league championship banner was the culmination of five years of players who put a lot of effort to establishing a culture of success. It was special that last year’s team was the first to put it up. Getting the opportunity to hang an NCS finalist banner too made it all the more special.
“The team this year, especially the returners, have a much better understanding of what they have to do to make a similar run. Our returners gained valuable experience last year playing against a lot of very good teams that they will be able to draw from for this team.”
The rankings were a little tougher to do this week. De La Salle was set for a drop, but winning the Northgate Tournament was a good bounce back from the loss to Monte Vista.
Even though the Spartans beat Amador Valley, I couldn’t see moving DLS all the way to three, especially when AV beat the Spartans in four games in East Bay Athletic League play just recently.
Doesn’t seem like Mission San Jose deserves a drop, but I guess they gotta go below Northgate for now, and Northgate has to go behind De La Salle, for now.
Deer Valley gets a four-spot jump after reaching the Gold Division quarterfinals and beating California, while Logan stays in the top 15, but drops four spots after an inconsistent showing.
3. Amador Valley
4. De La Salle
6. Mission San Jose
7. Deer Valley
10. College Prep
14. Dougherty Valley
15. Monte Vista