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The ball's in their court

With a wealth of talent, teams hoping for league and CIF success.

September 15, 2010|By Andrew Shortall and Gabriel Rizk, Andrewshortall@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

Phrases like "rebuilding process" or "transition year" aren't being thrown by La Cañada High's girls' volleyball team in 2010, even though the team brought up eight new players to replace the 11 who graduated.

The Spartans continued their tradition of winning in 2009, as they came out on top of Rio Hondo League and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division II finals. This year the program is focused on more of the same.

"The bar will be set high, as the standards of the program will continue to be a major factor in our success," said Coach Brock Turner, who is in his seventh year. "Even though the team is young in experience, we do not consider it a rebuilding year."

La Cañada enters the season focused on winning its eighth consecutive league title and second CIF Southern Section Division II championship in three years after falling short to Elsinore last year.

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The Spartans take on the task with a revamped, and much younger, squad. Eight new players, and no freshman for the first time in 20 years, join the team.

Courtney McCutchan is La Cañada's biggest loss, as she led the team in kills (390), aces (48) and was second in digs (230) last year. McCutchan received a full-ride scholarship to play for Lehigh University after being named all-league four years in a row, including two MVP years in 2007 and 2008.

"Last year when we got into the season and had some challenges early, I could rely on a lot of experience," Turner said. "We don't have that this year."

Turner's squad will look elsewhere to overcome any early-season woes this year.

"We'll be strong in the front row, but our strength early in the season will be serving and passing," Turner said. "That's what we'll have to rely on as we get through the bumps in the road."

This year's two captains, junior Catherine Horner and the Spartans' lone senior, Eirene Kim, were both all-league players last year. Kim will be shifting from libero to defensive specialist and Horner will anchor the back row as the team's defensive specialist after leading the team in aces (48) and collecting 141 digs last year.

"Having the leadership of our two captains will be one of the contributing factors to our team's success this season," Turner said. "They've been through a lot since they've been here at La Cañada."

Before the season even started, Turner's first mission was to replace both his outside hitters — McCutchan and MaryJo Scott, who now takes the court for Kenyon College.

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