The 2018 West Hills College Coalinga volleyball team features nine freshmen who will experience their first college match on Friday, August 31 at the Ohlone College Classic in Fremont.
WHCC head coach Jeff Wanderer also has three key sophomores: 2017 CVC honorable mention setter Taylor Ramos (Porterville), libero Carissa Plascencia (Mendota), and team captain outside hitter Alexis Vega (Coalinga).
The three returners are expected to see plenty of playing time, as the newcomers get adjusted to the speed and pace of the CCCAA level.
Wanderer was looking to replace the offensive firepower in All-CVC player Brittany Dias, a key contributor the last two seasons. He believes he has been successful in filling the void with a few highly-recruited prep stars.
The Falcons welcome OH Andrea Lopez, who was Orange Belt Player of the Year as a senior at Monache High School in Porterville.
Wanderer also brought in Mia Bouttavong, a multi-sport athlete from McLane High School in Fresno. In addition to being voted 2017 North Yosemite League Most Valuable Player as an outside hitter, she was also NYL champion in three track & field events: long jump, triple jump, and 200 meters.
"Both Andrea and Mia bring instant offense to our team," said Wanderer.
"Once they get their timing down with the setters in our offense, they will be tough to defend."
"We are much more balanced this season," said Wanderer.
"We have some flexibility with our line-up, since most of our players can play multiple positions. This group is very dynamic."
The Falcons have depth at each position, including setter and libero. Freshman setter Isabella Galang helped lead Strathmore High School to back-to-back East Sequoia League championships. She was a teammate of Lopez on a successful SoCal Volleyball Club.
Freshman libero Emilee Degunya is a transfer student from Fresno City College. She lettered in volleyball and softball (First Team All-North Yosemite League, City-County All-Star Game selection) at Fresno High School.
"Our practices are very competitive," said Wanderer.
"The girls work hard and enjoy being around each other. It's a great group of student-athletes; the sophomores are all Honor Roll students and the freshmen are serious about academics. This year's team motto is 'Our Team Is Our Family.' We look forward to facing tough competition on pre-season road trips and preparing for another challenging conference schedule."
WHCC will host defending CVC champion Fresno City College on Wednesday, Sept. 12.