Expectations High for Lady Olympians

Kenny Kinder

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Winning 20 out of 25 games in 2007, the Women’s Volleyball team concluded the season ranked No.12 in the state of California, leaving high expectations for the fall 2008 team. Undefeated in conference play once again, the Olympians went on to win yet another Pacific Coast Conference title.

Through 10 games in 2008, Mesa opens up the season winning seven, including a victory against rival San Joaquin Delta of Northern California. Delta is currently ranked No. 2 in Northern California and No. 7 in the state of California.

Although dwelling in early season success, the team has a few issues that need to be addressed in order reach similar results of last season’s conference championship team. Between lack of teamwork, discipline, and effortless practices, the Lady Olympians are due in for a long season.

“There are times when we are playing very well together however we don’t do this on a consistent basis,” commented head coach Kim Lester, who is entering her seventh season as Mesa College’s women’s volleyball head coach. “We need to improve on working together as a team along with our communication on the court. We also need to work harder in practice; we need more intensity and competitiveness so we can carry that over into our matches.”

For a coach or a historically bad program, conference titles are sometimes the biggest achievements in school history. However, when mentioning Coach Lester, the 2004 Female Sports Coach of the Year and four-time PCC Coach of the Year, conference titles are nothing new to her and her teams.

Since 2004, Lester has witnessed nothing but results. Her teams have won 59 out of 60 conference games, including four undefeated conference titles. In that span, her teams have participated in two state tournament appearances, placing second and fourth in both respectively. This season, Lester is in a position to win her third consecutive Coach of the Year award.

In 2008, just as previous seasons, Lester is once again a true believer as she and her girls begin another run at a conference title and possible state tournament appearance.

“We have a ton of potential, talent wise we are a good team with good players,” said Lester. “We have the potential to be a great team, a team that could win conference and make it to the state championship. However, in order to do this we need our team to step up in practice and work together to achieve our goals. I truly believe in this team but I also expect a lot more from them.”

The talent and potential Lester makes reference to is made up of 15 athletic women who operate within a tri-captain system. The crop of the talent consists of two returning players, as well as three freshman studs.

Captain and Co-captain Susanna Riddleberger and Brittany Moss return to Mesa this season as the only players from last year’s conference championship roster. Midway into the season, the tandem has co-existed well together. Moss leads the team in kills while Riddleberger leads the team in aces and digs.

Freshman Amber Davidson currently leads the team in blocks and assists as she continues to make constant contributions. “Davidson has a ton of potential to be very good,” commented Coach Lester. “Along with her raw talent and physical attributes she posses an extremely high volleyball IQ. She has the potential to be a Division One athlete one day.” The University of Nevada transfer was named PCC athlete of the week for the week of Sept. 14

Co-captain Joslin Alexander continues to excel throughout the first half of the season as well. “Joslin is our most powerful hitter,” replied Lester, “She’s our go-to girl.”

Keep a keen eye out for Lyndsay Shippy, who contributes effectively while maintaining status as the team stabilizer. Her reserve role will be vital to the team’s outcome this season.

The women’s volleyball season will continue on Oct. 8 as Mesa hosts a match with cross-town rival San Diego City College. The following week Mesa will be granted a rematch against rival and potential conference spoiler Palomar College on Oct. 17. Palomar defeated Mesa in five sets on Sept. 20 during the San Diego Mesa Invitational.

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