Red hot Stangs stall in playoffs

Tyler Mortimore, tmortimore@lmcexperience.com

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The Los Medanos College volleyball team, Bay Valley Conference champions, saw their playoff hopes ended in the first round against College of the Sequoias in Visalia Nov. 19.
The Mustangs went down three games to one to the Giants, who finished 17-7 overall this season.
College of the Sequoias won the first set 25-19, but LMC battled back to win the second set, another 25-19.
The Mustangs failed to build on their momentum and lost the next two sets 25-18 and 25-16.
“The first set we were a little nervous. As the game went on, we started playing the way we should,” said coach Lou Panzella. “They were just little better than us. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
Panzella said the team lacked playoff experience, and playing away from the LMC gym — where they were undefeated this season — proved difficult for the conference title-holders.
Although their playoff run was brief, this season was a significant one for the Mustangs, winning the Bay Valley Conference for the first time since 2003 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Sophomore Caitlin Sadler was named the conference’s Most Valuable Player, while freshman Vei Finau and sophomore Savannah O’Neal were named to the All-Conference team. Freshman Erica Wilder and sophomore Calissa Leming were named to the All-Conference second team.
“It was just a phenomenal season for us. It was the first time anyone on the team had won a conference title,” said Panzella, who was named coach of the year. “Having had a lot of success this year, the returning players will know the effort you have to put in to win.”
The challenge of any successful college sports program is continuity, and that challenge is doubled at the community college level. Panzella hopes to have all five of his freshman players return in 2017 as well as adding a fresh crop of players.
“There are a lot of girls I’m talking to — there are a couple girls from Deer valley, two or three from Freedom. Until the first day of practice, we’re never 100% sure,” he said. “You’re only as good as the kids who come out to play for you. We’re really looking forward to the potential of next season.” for more info on the LMC women’s volleyball, visit http://www.losmedanos.edu/volleyball/
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