Stangs ready for challenge

LMC+volleyball+team+members+Malaya+Salinas%2C+hitting%2C+and+Erica+Walters+and+Jordyn+Castleberry%2C+blocking%2C+during+a+recent+practice+in+the+gym.+

Cathie Lawrence

LMC volleyball team members Malaya Salinas, hitting, and Erica Walters and Jordyn Castleberry, blocking, during a recent practice in the gym.

Andrew Gonzales, agonzales@lmcexperience.com

The sports teams that rise up and are great for one year are a great story to tell, but the ones that can string together consecutive years and have continual success are the ones who are truly remembered. This year, the Los Medanos College women’s volleyball team looks to follow the path of the latter, and build upon a accomplished 2016 campaign.

Last year, the mustangs’ record of 15-13 depicts them as a close to average team, but there was no question who the best team in the Bay Valley Conference was. Out of the 12 total conference games teams play a year, LMC stood strong to win 11, losing only to Napa in a close 3-2 contest in early October. Their 11-1 record comfortably cemented them as the champions of the conference, with a two win gap minimum on the teams behind them.

While it is obvious the team can do well against their conference rivals, the next step would be to push that success into out of conference play, something head coach Louis Panzella believes his team can do with the help of returning players.

“This year is a different team than last year. We have five returning players from last year’s championship team and we look to those five players to lead our team by example in practice and in matches in regards to the work ethic it takes from everyone on the team to achieve our goals,” Panzella said. “It’s really easy to say ‘we want to win, we want to repeat’ but saying it without the commitment of putting in the effort and work can be a different story.”

The five returning players coach Panzella looks to lean on are Ayanna Burnett, Samantha Rhodes, Erica Wilder, Vei Finau, and Jordyn Castleberry. To fill the remaining slots left on the team, nine newcomers have joined the team, creating a fairly large squad in more ways than one.

“We have our largest team in numbers, and height that we have had in my six years at LMC. We have players pushing each other to earn playing time, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

However Panzella knows height and a large team isn’t going to win games alone. “The other eight teams in our conference also have a lot to say about how we do this year, they aren’t going to hand us anything, we will need to go out and earn whatever success we have.”

The Mustangs have gotten off on the right foot to start the season so far, earning a win against the College of the Siskiyous Eagles with a final score of 3-2. The team certainly has the capabilities to reach new heights, and Panzella believes they only need to manage three things.

“What we hope to do is go out in every match, play the best we can, outwork the other team and let the score take care of itself. If we concentrate on the three things we can always control, attitude, effort, and desire, we will be fine.”

For more information on the volleyball team, please visit http://www.losmedanos.edu/volleyball/