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Toros Set Course on the Comeback Trail : Volleyball: Off-season weight training and conditioning program expected to help women’s team, which finished 7-22 in 1990.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Competing in a conference she calls the “toughest in the nation” in NCAA Division II, Cal State Dominguez Hills volleyball Coach Nancy Fortner is anticipating marked improvement in her team this season.

The Toros, who finished 7-22 overall and 1-9 in California Collegiate Athletic Assn. play last season, have already won seven matches in 1991 and the season is barely three weeks old. Dominguez Hills finished third in the UC Davis and Christ College tournaments.

Fortner believes an improved off-season weight training and conditioning program will help the Toros climb toward the top of the conference standings. Dominguez Hills opens its conference schedule Oct. 1 against Cal State Bakersfield.

“Last season took a toll on some of our players by the end of the year,” said Fortner, who thinks that the 1991 squad is mentally and physically stronger than previous teams.

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Fortner is looking for Angela Hamer and Gale Derricott to provide leadership.

Hamer, a 5-foot-7 junior from El Segundo, earned All-CCAA honorable mention status in 1990. After working to overcome the effects of a serious auto accident that cut short her freshman season, Hamer set a school record for digs last year with 217.

Sophomore Derricott led the team in kills last season with a school-record 257. She is one of the Toros most adept servers, recording 26 aces in 1990.

“She’s the best hitter on the team,” said Hamer, who added that her teammate has “loads of potential.”

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Michelle Newman, a 5-5 senior from South Torrance High and an El Camino College product, is also being counted on for leadership. A setter and outside hitter, Newman’s 12 receiving errors were the fewest among Toro regulars last season.

At the setter position, junior Melissa Yeto has solidified Fortner’s starting unit. Although she is competing in her first season at Dominguez Hills, Yeto has already broken the Toro record for assists in a match three times.

Fortner believes the team must improve in three areas: serving, defense and blocking.

Hamer, who acknowledges that she needs to work on her serving, said that the Toros usually serve well in the early stages of a game, but tend to serve poorly toward the end.

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“A lot of times we serve the ball out at the end of a match,” said Hamer, “because of the adrenaline flowing” during a tight contest.

Fortner thinks the Toros can improve their defense by making a quicker transition from offense to defense.

The team’s blocking is suffering because Julie Berthiaume, the school record-holder for blocks in a season, is no longer with the team. Fortner hopes the other middle blockers will be able to fill the void left by Berthiaume.

If the Toros improve in those areas, Fortner believes Dominguez Hills will improve its standing in the CCAA.

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