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.
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
3. San Ramon Valley
8. Monte Vista
9. Amador Valley
10. Las Lomas