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Girls Volleyball: Coaching changes, Pre-Season Rankings

By Matt Smith
Saturday, August 18th, 2012 at 12:02 pm in Girls Volleyball.

There were a few coaching changes in the East Bay this summer, most notably was Tina Briggs taking over for the only coach Deer Valley has ever had as Lou Panzella steps down after 16 seasons to coach at Los Medanos College.

Panzella quickly built a program from its infancy into one that was a contender in both the Bay Valley Athletic League and the North Coast Section. The Wolverines won league titles in 1999, 2006, 2008 and 2009, made the NCS playoffs 13 times and the NCS finals twice. Panzella leaves with an overall record of 373-172 in 16 seasons at Deer Valley, and a 430-224 total record after a number of seasons at Antioch High.
Even after winning twice as many matches as he has lost, Panzella remains humble.
“Any success that DV teams have had is more a reflection of the outstanding players I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to coach and the incredible work ethic and family atmosphere we had going on in the gym,” Panzella said. “I do think we’ve had some success, established Deer Valley as a team that competes and plays hard, hopefully with good sportsmanship and a great attitude. I am very proud of what the girls at DV have accomplished over the years and am confident they will continue to maintain the standard those that have played before them have set.”
Panzella isn’t the only coach to leave one of the top programs in the East Bay as Shannon Ross steps down after three seasons as head coach of the Matadors.
Instead of talking about her own resignation, she took the opportunity to thank praise the work of Panzella before leaving.
“Lou meant so much to so many people, he was a pioneer of Bay Area high school volleyball. He helped put this great sport on the map in the Bay Area through his never-ending dedication to his high school, his players, and the coaches he mentored throughout the years. Bay Area volleyball will miss him greatly, but we will never forget the amazing impact he had on this area, the sport and especially the players.”
Ross finishes with a 65-22 record. Dave Masdeo takes over for her.
Brian Fujinaga, who has been the co-head coach at San Ramon Valley, will be the head coach of the defending Division I champs, while Dave Driskell takes over for Nicole Whitman at Antioch.
Na Vo is the new coach at College Park, and other news from the Diablo Valley Athletic League is that Jim Simonson of Berean Christian will retire after this season, which will be his 24th year coaching between Berean and Campolindo.
Simonson enters his final year with a record of 587-199 and six NCS championships. He will almost assuredly get his 600th win this year, and has won 75 percent of the matches he has coached in.

Rankings

The Dragons, always one of the best teams in the East Bay, open the season as the top team as they return Sophia Mar, among many other dangerous weapons.
Campolindo will be without head coach Scott Bishop, but John Vuong (head coach) and Dave Chen (assistant coach) have built a powerhouse boys program at Campo, in opposite roles during the Spring season.
California returns the top hitter in the area in Sabrina Clayton, and this could be the year Cal takes over the EBAL and Division I. San Ramon Valley loses quite a bit, but also has enough coming back to compete, while Albany, which was so close to winning a state title last year, also has some nice pieces coming back, to round out the top five.
Towards the bottom of the rankings, Heritage should be the favorite in the BVAL, Logan in the MVAL, St. Joe’s, starting the year unranked, in the BSAL and Berkeley in the ACCAL. Berkeley is a program heading in the right direction and could take a nice step forward this year.
A team everyone should keep an eye out for is Amador Valley.

1. Bishop O’Dowd
2. Campolindo
3. San Ramon Valley
4. California
5. Albany
6. Foothill
7. Northgate
8. Monte Vista
9. Amador Valley
10. Las Lomas
11. Carondelet
12. Granada
13. Heritage
14. Logan
15. Berkeley

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  • Jake

    Matt, you may be overlooking Northgate. They return all lot of experience and some very good club players.

  • Jake

    Las Lomas will win the DFAL this year. Look for Campo to drop off as they lost their setter

  • DFALFAN07

    Sorry to disappoint you Jake, but Campo’s setter IS playing again this year. So are both of their 6′ tall outside hitters. The three seniors they graduated didn’t really play key roles last year. Campo doesn’t even need to reload, they are deep and experienced already. Las Lomas won’t even get close to winning DFAL.

  • Jayhawk

    Don’t sleep on the BCL-East. There’s a lot of young talent with College Prep, Head-Royce, and Valley Christian. Head-Royce has 3 freshman that took their club teams to the Junior Nationals and finished in the top 20 in their age group. College Prep adds a couple freshman and retains several good players from last year’s team, but they lose perhaps their best asset–their head coach. Valley Christian continues it’s strong play with their own cast of club standouts.

  • DubC Vball

    Good to hear Sophie will be playing for Campo..she’s a good kid and will make the team better. Las Lomas will need to shore up their defense, but the starting 4 seniors are as good as any group in the east bay…careful not to overlook them. Miramonte always fields a competitive team, I expect them to be right in there. Acalanes lost some key players…they may take a step back although some of the younger talent has looked good. Dougherty and Dublin can surprise…don’t fall asleep on them, but as mentioned, Campolindo looks like they are again the team to beat in the DFAL.

  • Matt Smith

    Jake,

    I’ve got Northgate ranked seventh, so I wouldn’t say I’m overlooking them.
    And Campo returns a lot so I think they will be dangerous.
    I can’t wait to see what the BCL and BSAL have to offer. I will be ranking those teams as soon as they sort themselves out.

  • Jake

    Dfalfan007′

    Las Lomas returns a ton of talent. I still stand by my prediction that Las Lomas will win the DFAL, if Campo’s setter is playing or not. But this will be settled on the court, not in this blog!

  • SHSfan

    FYI, the BSAL is no more. The league has reorganized into the TCAL.. Salesian will be a contender again this season. Although they graduated eight seniors, they have a young talented group lead by the best libero in the Bay. MC has a new coach as well and they’ll be a strong club this season too.

  • Matt Smith

    Las Lomas is going to be very good and when all the EBAL teams start knocking each other off, Las Lomas will move up in the rankings. I’m sure of it.
    Jake, I agree in the sense that the DFAL will be a battle with those two teams.

    Oh ya, I forgot the BSAL is gone. The teams have gone into different leagues, with most moving to the new Tri-County Athletic League.
    That is consistent of…

    Rock Division: Albany, El Cerrito, St. Joseph, St. Mary’s, St. Pat’s

    Stone Division: De Anza, Hercules, Kennedy, Pinole, Richmond, Swett

  • DubC Vball

    Matt…

    I think you’ve got Albany ranked too low…that is going to be one VERY tough team. Plus, they have the confidence of KNOWING they are good after making state finals last year. Kyra is a beast!

  • XXX

    Jake
    What planet are you on dude? LL? I hope are are being funny. Good joke.

  • Loudfan

    DFAL: Last year I predicted the DFAL would be a 3 team race (Campo, Miramonte and LL) and that no team would go undefeated. Campo played better than I expected. LL was the bigger surprise. They struggled until late in the year and then finally found their stride. This year it will be a two team race. Campo and LL will be fun to watch.

    EBAL: Last year I picked SRV. It turned out to be quite a dogfight between 4 teams. This year the EBAL is the best league top-to-bottom. I’ll give Cal High the edge.

  • Albany team supporter

    Matt
    I am sure that you have researched all of your picks for the East Bay Volleyball teams for the 2012 fall season but the games have to be played by all of the players. I wish all teams and the players the best. You made no mention of Kyra Holt outside hitter of Albany High School: NorCal M.V.P. , All State, and All American/All Tournament at 2013 Junior Olympic just to name a few. The records states that she is the top hitter in the East Bay. The Albany High School Team is working very hard to duplicate or surpass their efforts from last year. Where is the acknowledgement and or love for our team and players We reside in the East Bay.

  • DFALFAN07

    I have to agree with the above post. Albany was the class of D3 last year, and they return a huge amount of talent. Kyra Holt is the best player in Norhtern California, and they are the team to beat. Period.

  • Matt Smith

    I’m confused about your comment, saying I didn’t mention Kyra Holt for the East Bay team for 2012? I haven’t even mentioned the East Bay team. She made the team in 2011, and will most certainly be a player of the year candidate this year.

    I wish you could shed some light on what you meant. I haven’t even started thinking about all East Bay. In fact, I’ve only mentioned one player and it was the top returner on the team I ranked No. 1. That’s it.

    I certainly think Holt is a great player and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who thinks she’s better than I think she is.

  • DFALFAN07

    Jake I see this morning that LL didn’t even manage to take a single set off Campo last night. At home. You are right about it being settled on the court.