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FEELING AT HOME
Sims leads experienced group in 2nd stint as EU coach
East Union girls volleyball
Coach Michelle Sims leads East Union in hitting drills. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Michelle Sims is back as head varsity girls volleyball coach at East Union, but to her it’s as if she never left.

That’s because she never really has.

“It’s just home,” she said. “It’s home for me.”

The 1989 graduate has been involved with her alma mater for years, whether it’s as coach or parent. Her son Nick (2018) and daughter Hailey (2021) are also EU alums who were standout athletes for the school.

Sims led the Lancers for seven years during her first stint in the 2000s. She coached at Central Catholic prior to that. Sims went on to coach at Golden West School for two years and returned to EU with her then-freshman daughter, coaching at the lower levels under Chelsea Herrera.

“I have coached almost my whole life, so for me it doesn’t matter if I’m the one in charge or not,” she said. “I just like being there for the girls.”

Roger Ngo and Dani James are helping as assistants. Sims is also heading the JV squad. Jennifer Dal Porto remains as freshman coach.

Sims anticipates a big improvement from the team’s 3-16 finish last year. The Lancers were also 2-10 in the Valley Oak League but did not have a single senior on the roster. Meritiana Luana made All-VOL first team as a freshman libero and has converted to outside hitter. Middle blocker Donnese Payne also returns after earning all-league honorable mention.

Now with eight seniors, five juniors and three sophomores, some of whom have gained club experience since last season, Sims believes her team is set up to compete now and in the future.

Middle blocker Caitlyn Trevino and setter Marcella Carrenza are both sophomores who will be immediate contributors in their inaugural varsity season.

Bella Israel leads a deep group of defensive specialists, and outside hitter Valerie Ochoa has stepped up as a team leader.

“I think we’ll be very competitive,” Sims said. “We’re going to continue to grow as we go. I’m pleased with our team, so far.”

East Union scrimmaged Lathrop last Friday and officially begins the season this Saturday at the Orestimba Tournament. The Lancers will host Orestimba for a Foundation Game next Monday and begins VOL play Sept. 15 at home against Central Catholic.