By Rick Assad
Special to MyBurbank
When the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team practices, there is a gentle reminder of how they hope their season plays out written on their t-shirts under their jerseys. It simply reads: “patches and bracket.”
The former refers to winning the Pacific League title, while the latter has to do with the Indians getting a favorable seeding for the CIF Southern Section Division II-A playoffs.
“If we’re not in the top one or two [in league] it would be disappointing,” Burroughs coach Edwin Real said. “We only have three seniors, but they’re decorated.”
Real is optimistic because his squad fared exceedingly well during the summer league which consisted of roughly 15 matches, with Burroughs winning at an 80 percent clip. The Indians won Burbank’s Summer League tournament by defeating Eagle Rock in the championship match.
“I think we’re ready. We’re on a mission,” Real said. “In my time here, I’ve been to the quarterfinals three times, but never to the semifinals, which is one of our goals.”
A season ago, Burroughs finished 12-7 overall, 10-4 in league (third place) behind Burbank and Arcadia who tied for the league championship.
Burroughs lost to Pasadena Poly in the CIF quarterfinals after upsetting No. 3 seeded Oxnard in the prior match.
In 2011, the Indians went undefeated in league at 14-0 and 21-6 overall.
Real enters his 10th season at the helm and will count heavily on senior tri-captains Caitlin Cottrell, Katie Rutecki and Dani Gonzalez to capture the league title once again.
Cottrell is coming off a season in which the 5-foot-9 middle blocker and three-year varsity performer was named first-team, all-league and All-CIF.
“Caitlin is one of our main hitters and one of our most consistent hitters,” Real said. “Caitlin can play in the front row and back row.”
Rutecki, a setter and right side opposite hitter, is also 5-9, and was tabbed first-team, all-league in 2012. Real expects even more from her.
“Katie set well for us and she’ll do the same this season,” Real said. “I’m able to play her in the front row. She’s our second best hitter and our best leaper. Katie works hard in practice and is very focused.”
Gonzalez, a libero, was selected all-league, second-team, and is adroit at getting to the ball.
“Daniela covers a lot of court in the back row,” Real said. “Defensively she’s one of the leaders and is much improved.”
Junior outside hitter Kelsey Strong is exactly that according to Real. “She’s a strong kid,” he said. “When she hits the ball it takes off. She’s intimidating.”
Sophomore Alexis Hamilton will patrol the middle and right side. “She’s 6-feet tall and strong. She hits hard and blocks well,” Real said. “She’ll be a force in the front row.”
Sophomore Danielle Ryan will also toil in the front row and is primed to show her skill at hitting and blocking. “Danielle is 6-feet tall and much improved over the summer when blocking at the net,” Real said.
Junior setter Elizabeth Gunn has a knack for placing the ball at the right spot and to the intended hitter. “Lizzy can set to all areas of the court,” Real said, “and has become an improved hitter over the summer.”
Sophomore Mayeli Orozco is an outside hitter and this will be her first year playing at the varsity level. “Mayeli is a good passer and is smart at ball placement,” Real said.
Sophomore Samantha Sullivan is an outside hitter who will be counted upon despite her youth. “We need her to be consistent with her play and hit smart shots,” Real said. “We will also rely on her defense.”
Junior right opposite hitter Jaelynn Offerman will be asked to contribute on offense and defense. “She’s a good blocker and spiker,” Real said. “She has power behind the ball.”
Sophomore setter and opposite hitter Britta Good is versatile according to Real. “Britta is one of our stronger setters,” he said. “Her hitting improved over the summer.”
Junior Darby Adams is a back row specialist who can pass the ball expertly, play defense and will add depth to a team that has high aspirations.
Burroughs opens its 2013 campaign at Monrovia on September 3 at 3:00 p.m. The home opener is versus Hart on Sept. 10 at 3:30 p.m., and Pacific League action begins at home against Glendale on September 19.
Matches against defending champion Burbank will be held on Oct. 10 at Burbank and Nov. 5 at Burroughs. Both matches are set for 6 p.m.