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Weston Ranch seniors bolstered by promising junior class
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Weston Ranch head volleyball coach Chris Bauer has a roster littered with juniors for this upcoming season.

“We have a lot of kids that can play all the way around,” said the Cougars’ second-year varsity coach. “This is the deepest we’ve ever been as a program.”

Last year, Weston Ranch finished fourth in the Valley Oak League and just missed a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III berth. Oakdale and Sonora — the VOL’s two powerhouses and reigning co-champions — along with Kimball made the postseason.

“I think we have a huge opportunity to knock one (Sonora or Oakdale) off if we’re on our game that day,” said Bauer, who has been the school’s head girls basketball coach since it opened 10 years ago. “Last year at the JV level we split with Sonora and Oakdale. At the varsity level we (were swept), but we were competitive.

“The kids have practiced and put forth effort and I feel good about where we’re at. These first few preseason games will give us a little more perspective. The top three go to the playoffs, and Sonora and Oakdale will probably be the top two.”

Weston Ranch is returning three key seniors who received significant playing time during the Cougars’ 6-8 finish in the conference last year. Alex Marapao, Vanessa Contreras and Melanie Amen will provide the Ranch with its varsity-playing experience. The rest of the group is all juniors who experienced a fair share of success at the lower levels.

“We obviously want to build off the momentum that we had last year at the end of the season,” Bauer added. “We started to play well and we want to keep that going.

“Eye on the prize is making the playoffs. We’re a lot further ahead at this point in the season than we were last year.”

In 2012, Weston Ranch earned 3-0 single-match sweeps over Manteca Unified rivals East Union, Manteca and Sierra but settled for season splits against all three.

Weston Ranch will open its season Friday with a home game against Bear Creek Stockton at 6 p.m.

“We have lots of potential, but mentally we have to see what we have between the ears,” Bauer concluded. “We’re about as tough as marshmallows on the junior side. Seniors are pretty squared away and know what we’re doing, but my juniors still need to figure it out.