Defending champs return

Volleyball team faces tough preseason play


Hazel Recinos

Shelby Bryant looks to make a play during a practice session.

Hugo Calderon, @Hugothegreat09

Last season, the Los Medanos College Women’s Volleyball team added yet another Bay Valley Conference title to their resume, but ended their play-off run in the first round. 

This year, the team starts off on a new slate. 

“Last year is history. Its done. Its gone. It’s a whole new season with a whole new cast of characters.” said Lou Panzella, head coach of the women’s volleyball team. “We start from scratch, I like our team and think we have the opportunity to do well, but until we do it, we haven’t done anything.”

Not only did the team win a conference title, the Los Medanos College athletics program was awarded the BVC Commissioners Cup, which is awarded to the school in the conference that finishes the highest in all of their respective sports — excluding football —  and has the highest cumulative GPA, for which LMC had a 3.1. 

“I think that having an athletic GPA as a big component is a big thing. I thought I was going to nominate our team for academic All-American team, but only one team [Feather River College] managed to do it. We missed out by two-tenths of a point.” said Panzella. 

One of the goals that the team has is to qualify for Academic All-American this season, according to the 2018 All-Bay Conference coach of the year.

The Mustangs have played against strong opponents during its preseason, which serves as an opportunity to get the team used to playing against top-notch competition.

Some of the schools LMC faced  include San Joaquin Delta College, Sierra College, College of San Mateo, and Gavilan College, which finished top four among the NorCal schools last season. 

“It’s better to play [tougher competition] during preseason, that way when we get to the regular season we’ve already played the best of the best” said Amaya Mixon.

Panzella did acknowledge that one drawback of playing a tough preseason schedule is that if the team suffers a lot of losses, the confidence might go down before the regular season starts. 

One of the biggest setbacks the Mustangs face is losing four players from last season, all of who made the All-Bay Conference first team- Emily Jones, Sophia Clavido, Nuru Boone, and Mercedes Nicholson. 

While the team has six returning players, two are currently bound to the sidelines due to injury. 

“We’re definitely putting in a lot of hard work, it’s just tough because we have a few injuries that just happened, so we haven’t started off as strong as we wanted to,” said Kristina Salazar, another returning player. 

The Mustangs kick off conference play on the road against Laney College Sept. 18.