Alyssa Burch, Beth Aschenbrenner, Mildred Perez and Chelsea Bruch were all freshmen during the 2011-2012 volleyball season.
The senior quartet would like to see the Manteca Buffaloes do something the program has not accomplished since they were freshmen – make the playoffs.
One thing has changed over the last four years – playoff slots are now earned by a team’s finish in its league as opposed to power rankings.
“It’s a little different now,” second-year Manteca coach Kevin Bolding said. “You might have a good team but if you are in a tough league like the Valley Oak League you can still get left out.
“We beat teams outside of our league that make the playoffs and they get to go on because maybe their league is not as strong as ours.”
In addition to the four seniors, Morgan Miramontes, Aryana Martinez and Jasmine Basuil – all juniors – return to the varsity squad. Celina Burks, Summer Kirby and Raygan Both look to make an impact, coming up from the sophomores.
Last year’s squad went 4-10 in the VOL and 7-18 overall, but this team’s pedigree is vastly different from last year’s when there were no seniors on the roster. Along with Miramontes, this will be the third year on the varsity for Aschenbrenner, though she will have to battle back from a knee injury that ended her basketball season over the winter.
“I always ask her how her knee is and she always tells me fine,” Bolding said. “It seems to be fine. She went to physical therapy over the summer.”
Bolding was pleased the effort put forth over the summer.
“It was pretty good over the summer,” Bolding said. “We had a good turnout and got a lot of stuff done.”
For years in the VOL, Sonora and Oakdale have battled for first place, but due to realignment this year Sonora is out and Central Catholic-Modesto will take the Wildcats’ place.
“Having Central Catholic in will be new,” Bolding said. “They finished second in their league (Western Athletic Conference) and I think they will be pretty good.
“The league is going to be competitive. There are no gimmes and there is no taking a night off.”
The Buffaloes travel to Tracy to take on West in a Sac-Joaquin Section Foundation Game on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. and kick the season off at home Wednesday, Sept 3 against Ripon Christian at 6 p.m.