It isn’t every year that a team has an experienced group returning. But that is the case for the Burroughs and Burbank High girls’ volleyball teams. Both figure to contend for the Pacific League title.
Veteran coach Edwin Real returns for his 13th season as head coach after many seasons of being an assistant to legendary coach Linda Murphy.
The Indians return five starters from a team that went 23-8 overall and 14-0 in league. It was the Indians’ third league title under Real.
“Our team goal for this season is to defend the Pacific League Championship,” Real said. “Everyone in the league continues to get stronger and makes for a need to play at a higher level each time you have a league match. This season we will open with Arcadia, which we feel will be another contender for the league championship. Our sights are set on that first league challenge.”
(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)
The team is led by 6-foot-5 junior outside hitter Marin Grote, who was a Pacific League co-Player of the Year last year with teammate Danielle Ryan, who has graduated.
“Marin is not only tall, but is also athletic. When our team has good ball control, she can dominate the court. Since she brings a lot of attention with her size and play, our other hitters will be effective on the offensive end as well.”
Grote, who has committed to the University of Washington, has talent around her.
Senior middle blocker Caleigh Paster (6-0) is one of five returning starters. Also back is junior outside Julianna Cottrell (5-11), senior opposite Sophia Rizzotti (5-9) and junior setter Lauren Zedlar (5-7).
Also returning to varsity is senior libero Cesera Suarez (5-8) and junior setter Mia Staub (5-7).
Burroughs has seven new varsity players.
One of them is 6-0 sophomore outside hitter Juliana Van Loo. Sophomore setter Shea McGovern (5-10) and freshman setter Ali Perez (5-5) have shown promise. Junior Lizzy Jessen (5-6) is a defensive specialist. Junior Sabrina Sullivan (5-6) is a libero. Junior Ricky Patenaude (5-9) is an opposite and senior Hailey Wantland (5-9) is an outside hitter.
Real said his team has goals that go beyond success in league play.
“We also have an expectation to make, and do well in the playoffs. We have challenged ourselves to be the team that makes it past the quarterfinals, a goal that hasn’t been accomplished by a girls volleyball team at Burroughs,” Real said.
The Bulldogs went 15-14 overall and 8-6 in Pacific League play last season.
Eleven players return from that team, including three players that earned all-league honors.
Junior Melissa Daniel, who was a first-team all-league setter last season is back. Coach Karl Rojo said she may see time in a number of roles.
Also returning is senior second-team all-league libero Carly Palmisano (5-5).
Senior Hailey Heath (5-9) earned honorable mention all-league honors a year ago.
Burbank also has back senior middle blocker Nicole Winters (5-9), who is in her third year on varsity.
Senior outside hitter Colette Reynolds (5-8) is back as is senior opposite Rachel Wiley (5-8).
Senior setter Hannah Porter (5-5), senior libero Allison Leonen (5-4), junior libero Allie Benson (5-6) and junior middle blockers Bene Snyder (5-9) and Erin Lashkari (5-7) also return.
Up from the lower levels are junior middle blocker Arpi Garibyan (5-9), junior opposite Suzy Torosyan (5-5) and junior opposite Elizabeth Kvryan (5-5).
Freshman Ashley Eskander (5-5) is a setter and her presence could allow Daniel to fill other roles for Burbank.
“We’re trying to get a good unit,” Rojo said. “We’re not focused on wins or losses. We want to improve as we progress into the season.”
Rojo said he expects all matched will be tough.
“It’s going to be a really tight league this year,” he said. “You don’t know until we start.”