Spartans set for season

Girls' volleyball: The Spartans look to put last year behind them after returning all but one starter.

August 31, 2011|By Andrew Shortall and Charles Rich, and

The way last season ended for the top-seeded La Cañada High girls' volleyball team — in the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA quarterfinals at the hands of Oaks Christian — was tough for Spartans Coach Brock Turner to swallow.

"It was very disappointing, it's the one loss over the years that I have hung on to more than others," said Turner of the 25-27, 25-23, 14-25, 25-22, 15-11 defeat to the Lions.

The defeat broke the Spartans' two-year streak of making it to the CIF Southern Section Division finals. La Cañada is eyeing a return to the championship after graduating just one starter last year. The Spartans enter 2011 ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division II, according to the CIF preseason polls that were released on Aug. 22.


"It's maybe better that way [being ranked fourth]," said Turner, who's entering his eighth year as La Cañada's head coach. "We have something to shoot for."

The Spartans sat on top of the polls for most of the season in 2010 and went 30-4 (10-0 in Rio Hondo League) for their ninth consecutive league championship. Expectations are set higher than a league championship and quarterfinal appearance this year, as the Spartans return eight starters.

Catherine Horner, a senior, four-year varsity starter and La Cañada's co-captain, will anchor the Spartans' back line at libero. Kirstie Shurie, a three-year varsity setter, will join Horner as a co-captain this year.

La Cañada's six other returners include junior outside hitters Kendall Walbrecht and Micaela Anderson. Laura Schroeder, a senior, will return to her spot on the right side and Katie Pierce, a junior, and Claire Hilsen, a senior, return as the team's middle blockers.

Pierce is the reigning Rio Hondo League MVP after she posted a 54.4 kill percentage (232 kills on 411 attempts), 146 digs, 42 aces and 26 blocks last year. Walbrecht, a first team all-league selection in 2010, accumulated a team-high 330 kills. Every Spartan up front can put the ball away, though, as Schroeder and Hilsen had 180 and 149 kills, respectively, last year.

"If someone's not having their 'A' game, someone else can bring it," Turner said. "We do have a lot of weapons."

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