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Three area teams hope to be more competitive under new figureheads
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New Lathrop High head coach Diana Kimbrough watches as her players engage in an intrasquad scrimmage. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO


2011: 7-7 VOL (tied third place), 9-9 overall. Lost to Vista del Lago in first round of SJS Division III playoffs.
Coaches: Rick Posz (head), Malissa Puahi (assistant), Mike Morenzone (sophomore), Kim Brooks (freshman).
Notable returners (position, grade): Alexis Steele (OH, 12th), Alex Scopas (OH/OPP/DS, 12th), Kayla Lamont (OH/DS, 12th), Jill Costa (MB, 12th), Mariah Burrola (L, 12th).
Notable newcomers (position, grade): Courtney Posz (S/DS, 11th), Carolina Gutierez (RS/L/DS, 11th), Madison Hoffman (OPP/MB, 11th), Monica King (OPP/OH/DS, 11th), Lauren Terry (MB, 11th), Jami Arceo (DS, 11th), Dani Herrera (DS, 11th).
Outlook: The team is set up nicely for first-year coach Posz with five returners back from the 2011 playoff team. The Lancers did take one significant hit: all-VOL first-team setter Regina Dias is out with an ACL injury suffered during the soccer season. With a nice mix of experience and athleticism, EU is a threat to make another run at qualifying for the postseason.

2011: 7-7 VOL (tied third place), 9-11 overall. Lost to Christian Brothers in first round of SJS Division III playoffs.
Coaches: Tim Horning (head), Kevin Bolding (sophomore), Angie Ayers (freshman).
Notable returners (position, grade): Sammie Morris (S, 12th), Nicole Magnuson (L, 12th), Julia Martinez (OPP, 12th), Jessica Munoz (DS, 12th), Ashley Gase (DS, 12th).
Notable newcomers (position, grade): Beth Aschenbrenner (L/DS/S, 11th), Morgan Miramontes (OH, 9th), McKenna Balmut (LS, 11th), Abigail Behler (MB, 11th), Kijana Nicols (MB, 11th).
Outlook: Coach Horning lost considerable height from last season’s playoff-qualifying squad but gains depth and versatility. Martinez is a heavy-handed hitter, but the newcomers must step up to give the Buffs another offensive threat. Morris was one of just two area players to be named to the all-VOL first team in 2011. Reserves a year ago, Gase and Munoz are stepping into larger roles on the defensive back line, which will be the strength of this Manteca team.

2011: 2-11 VOL, 5-15 overall.
Coaches: Trinity Johnson (head).
Notable returners (position, grade): Gabby Olmo (S, 12th), Allie Walljasper (MB, 11th).
Outlook: The Timberwolves return four starters and six players total from last season’s rebuilding project for Coach Johnson. Olmo was named to the all-league second team, and the 6-foot-1 Walljasper earned honorable mention. With a more experienced squad, Sierra hopes to climb up the VOL standings this year, but several other teams chasing the big two (Oakdale, Sonora) appear to be improved as well.


2011: 1-13 VOL, 2-18 overall.
Coaches: Diana Kimbrough (head), Rob Gulden (sophomore), Krystal Ruiz (freshman).
Notable returners (position, grade): Monica Brambila (S, 12th), Cherubine Consul (OH, 12th), Marissa Elliot (OH, 12th).
Notable newcomers (position, grade): Kale’a Mitchell (L, 10th).
Outlook: Lathrop graduated eight seniors and has just three returning players. First-year coach Kimbrough is molding a team that includes four first-year varsity seniors and four first-year juniors. Brambila takes over for all-VOL honorable mention Janel Butler as the primary setter, while fellow four-year Spartans Consul and Elliot will help provide a veteran presence.

2011: 6-8 VOL, 10-10 overall.
Coaches: Chris Bauer (head).
Notable returners (position, grade): Aolani Etu (S, 12th), Candisse Griffin (OH, 12th).
Notable newcomers (position, grade): Vanessa Contreras (MB, 11th), Kayla Holiday (LS, 11th).
Outlook: The Cougars narrowly missed advancing to the playoffs for the first time in school history. Despite graduation losses to key players, they hope to compete again under their third head coach in three years. The front line is solid with all-league second-teamer Griffin being joined by Contreras and Holiday — standouts on the sophomore team last season.

2011: 9-3 in TVL (third place), 16-15 overall. Lost to Escalon in second round of SJS Division IV playoffs.
Coaches: Adrienne Uecker (head), Ashley Courtright (sophomore), Jocelyn Swier (freshman).
Notable returners (position, grade): Lizzy Nizzoli (S, 12th), Alyssa Leslie (MB, 12th), Chelsea Ioppini (MB, 12th), Paige Burrell (L/DS, 12th).
Notable newcomers (position, grade): Kristin Carhart (OH, 11th), Danny Arteaga (DS, 11th).
Outlook: Last year, Burrell was the lone returner from a team that claimed Ripon its fifth straight TVL championship. The inexperienced Indians were hard-pressed to repeat under then-first-year Ripon coach Uecker, but she did well to keep them competitive. They expect to be back in contention in 2012 with veteran standouts Burrell and Nizzoli holding down key positions. 

2011: 14-0 SL (champion), 24-11 overall, SJS Division V champion, lost to Woodside Priory in first round of NorCals.
Coaches: Tiger Shelton (head), Kevin Tameling (assistant, sophomore head), Michele Shelton (assistant).
Notable returners (position, grade): Andie Shelton (S, 11th), Brittany Petlansky (OH/DS, 12th), Stephanie Van de Pol (MB, 12th), Kaylie Colyn (L, 12th), Kristy Van Diver (OH, 12th), Cassidy DeRousse (MB, 12th), Kamryn Bylsma (12th).
Outlook: The Knights were “rewarded” for their fifth straight SJS Division V title run by being bumped up to the more competitive Division IV bracket for the postseason. They are still favorites to three-peat as conference champs, however. They are moving on without 6-foot twins Morgan and Mikeala Alger, but return fourth-year varsity starter Petlansky, reigning all-area MVP Andie Shelton and Van de Pol, who missed most of 2011 with an illness.

— Jonamar Jacinto

New head volleyball coaches are looking to bring some stability to East Union, Lathrop and Weston Ranch — three programs that have undergone constant change at the top over the past four years.

Two of those coaches have familiar names in the area.

Rich Posz takes over at East Union, where he is already the sophomore girls basketball coach. One of his daughters, Lexy, is a former standout Lady Lancer in basketball, while the younger Courtney has started her junior year at the school and will play setter in her first varsity season.

Chris Bauer is back to coaching volleyball after leaving a successful program at Ripon High in 2004 to take a teaching position at Weston Ranch, where he has since served as head varsity girls basketball coach.

At Lathrop, Stockton native Diana Kimbrough is coaching at the high school level for the first time, though she is no stranger to the sport as both competitor and instructor.

Posz started coaching volleyball for the St. Anthony’s Catholic Youth Organization squad and, for the past two years, ran a club team consisting of East Union lower level players.

“I’ve always had an interest in volleyball,” Posz said. “I’m from southwest Minnesota where all we had was football, basketball and baseball for the boys. My sister played college volleyball, and that had a part in getting me into it.”

Mike Morenzone brings experience to the coaching staff at the sophomore level. He led East Union to its second of two overall Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 1995. Morenzone also guided the Lancer softball team to a section title. He previously coached Ripon’s sophomore volleyball contingent.

Bauer has spearheaded benchmark achievements with the girls basketball team at Weston Ranch in recent years. Now, he aims to do the same in volleyball.

Over the past two years, the Cougars threatened to qualify for their first postseason berth but came up short each time.

Bauer last coached volleyball in 2004 for Weston Ranch’s sophomore team, but in 2003 he guided tradition-rich Ripon to the final four of the SJS Division IV playoffs. In his three years at Ripon, he went 1-19 in 2001, 22-11 in 2002 and 16-6 in 2003.

“It’s a nice change going from basketball full-time for eight years to something different. It’s refreshing and it’s been fun,” said Bauer, who was named varsity head volleyball coach the week before the school term started for Manteca Unified schools.

Kimbrough is excited to be venturing into new territory in her volleyball career. She began playing at age 10, when she received instruction from Nancy Liskevych, an All-American at Pacific. Her husband, Terry Liskevych, currently heads the Oregon State volleyball team and previously coached the U.S. national team from 1985-1996.

Kimbrough went on to play at Lincoln High continued to play collegiately at Hartnell College, Delta College and various competitive clubs in the Stockton area.

Her father, Dr. Glen Albaugh, a renowned sports psychologist, is a big influence in her life.

“That’s where the whole coaching thing comes from — it’s in the family,” Kimbrough said. “I’m a little nervous but very excited to be a part of this. Our first goal is to create a great team culture, and we want to show that in practice and our matches.”