By Riley Segal
Photo by Matt Scholtz
The girls’ varsity volleyball team has a reputation to uphold in the upcoming season. Despite various setbacks, the Tigers are confident that that they are headed for success in league. With new coach Shari Iwatani, they hope to fight to keep their spot as Rio Hondo League champions, and have a long run to victory in CIF.
The Tigers will have to overcome many challenges, including the loss of four significant players that graduated last year. They were replaced by fresh faces, including freshman Kimi Brown and sophomores Isabel Blüml and Harper Fox. Returning players such as juniors Katie Sokolow, Madison Hirano, Molly Feldmeth, and Kate Kutzer are expected to lead the team.
“The [returning players] have been so welcoming, especially since I’m the only freshman on the team. The seniors have been so helpful, especially when I’m getting frustrated with how I’m playing,” Brown said.
The varsity squad is also confident in its new coach. Iwatani also coaches at San Gabriel Elite, the local volleyball club, so many players are familiar with her coaching style. Many players think that she will bring a new perspective and drive to the team, despite the loss of coach Benjamin Diaz. It will be different than previous years, but the Tigers are looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s always nice to get a new perspective. Coach Ben left, but what’s so great is that we have another great coach with a bigger vision and a solid reputation,” sophomore Madison Saito said. “Her commitment to volleyball is a huge strength.”
For the past month, the varsity squad has been hard at work with grueling two and a half hour practices, five days a week. Though practice takes up much of their time, the girls still find ways to have team bonding, as they feel that their chemistry will play a huge role in their success. Players must have a strong dedication to the team and it’s time commitment in order for it to reach its full potential.
“Our team’s greatest strength by far is the bond we have with one another, on and off the court. We all care deeply about one another and it really shows through when we play together,” Hirano said. “Our biggest weakness, however, will probably be lack of coordination in playing as a team since many of us have been sick or on vacation during the summer.”
The Tigers’ are confident that their dedication will help them climb to the number one spot in league, as well as their skill, talent and chemistry on the court. Their first game was away against Campbell Hall School on September 2nd, a three-set win for the Tigers.