BURBANK -- There is more that’s new with the 2003 girls’ high school
volleyball season than fresh faces and first-year coaches.
What is going to impact the local teams are some rules changes
that will probably affect the way some coaches approach and play
During the offseason, the National Federation of State High School
Assns. adopted a number of new rules that will be mandated for all
CIF contests this season.
The biggest change comes with the sport’s scoring system. Points
will now be rewarded on each play, regardless of which team is
serving. Rally scoring is a change from the old rule that awarded
points to a team only when it was serving.
Another change comes with the number of points needed to win a
game. Instead of the first team to 15 winning a game, it will now be
25 -- with a team still needing to win by two.
There are also new rules dealing with served balls into the net --
called lets -- being live, and double hits, or lifts, now permitted
on the reception of the first ball.
The NFHS also gave more power to officials during matches. There
is now an unsportsmanlike conduct rule that allows officials to give
coaches a yellow, or warning, card when they feel a coach is
“disrespectfully addressing their own players.”
The rules changes are meant to make the high school game more like
the volleyball played in college or the club levels.
One local coach who doesn’t mind most of the changes is
Providence’s Andrew Bencze.
“I think the changes are good. But if they were going to make the
changes, I think they should have gone all the way and adapted all of
the same kinds of things that are used in the college game,” he said.
“As far as the rally scoring is concerned, I think it will make
for a more consistent game and I think it will lend itself to more
substitution opportunities for teams.”
Bencze also said he doesn’t have a problem with the new
unsportsmanlike conduct rule.
“I’ve never been that way as a coach, and I don’t do that to my
players,” he said. “But I can see where the rule could be interpret
differently by different officials.”
Bell-Jeff Coach Gloria Arancibia said she sees the new rules as
new opportunities for her team.
“I really like the new rule with the rally scoring,” she said. “It
will make the game more exciting and keep it moving along.
“I also like the idea that now let serves are going to count. We
are going to take advantage of that and we have been working on our
let serves in practice.”
With the new rules in place, the local teams are now just waiting
for the opportunity to try them out.
Here is a look at how the season is shaping up:
Without any superstars, Bencze finds himself with a group of
players who have many of the same playing abilities.
“I guess you can look at it as a good situation, or a bad
situation,” Bencze said.
“On one hand, I have a group players who are all about the same
and they will probably be interchangeable. But we don’t have that one
outstanding player who we can go to when we need to.”
The Pioneers have an even mix of seven seniors and seven
underclassmen from a team that went 10-8 and finished tied for third
(9-5) in the Liberty League in 2002.
Providence’s catalyst could be senior setter Miyo Gerhardt, who
Bencze said he is counting on to provide some leadership for the
The team also has some height up front with 6-foot-4 senior Megan
“It’s nice to have any team with a 6-4 player,” Bencze said.
Two players who will be relied on for offense are senior outside
hitter Nadia Trevino and senior middle blocker Ashlei Limbaga. Other
impact players could be senior outside hitter Ashley Kurges and
senior middle blocker Christine Miller.
"[Limbaga] is the best athlete on the team,” Bencze said. “She
might be the best athlete we’ve had around here in a long time.”
In Liberty League competition, Bencze said he expects L.A.
Windward to be the favorite to win the championship. However, he said
it could be a battle for second place between his Pioneers, North
Hollywood Oakwood and Calabasas Viewpoint.
Arancibia gave her team a little motivation last week when she
took it to an NCAA volleyball match at Pepperdine involving
University of the Notre Dame.
Serving as an assistant coach for the Fighting Irish is Bell-Jeff
graduate Louella Lovely, whom Arancibia played alongside in the early
“It was really great for the girls to see someone from their
school who has gone on to be very successful in the sport they’re
playing,” Arancibia said. “The girls enjoyed meeting Louella and I
think they got a lot out of the whole experience.”
Losing four players to graduation, the Guards (8-11 last year)
will rely on a trio of returners to lead the team.
Heading the pack is four-year varsity player Ashley Walden, who
will play outside hitter. She will also do some setting. Joining her
is senior outside hitter Julie Van Dyke and junior middle blocker
Handling the setter duties will be sophomore Gina Van Dyke, who is
also an accomplished defensive player.
Arancibia said she also expects big things from sophomore Larissa
Witcher, who will play on the right side, and junior Kristen DeJesus,
another defensive specialist.
Although the Guards took their lumps in the tough Sunshine League
last season, going 2-10, Arancibia said she expects her team to do
much better this season.
"[L.A.] Marymount is going to be very tough,” she said. “But I
think we have a very good chance to beat [Pasadena] La Salle, and
[L.A.] Immaculate Heart, and even a team like [L.A.] Notre Dame
[Academy]. We are going to compete his year.”
After being an assistant to Linda Murphy for 13 seasons, Edwin
Real takes over the reins from mentor Linda Murphy, who was let go
after the 2002 season.
Real, who was the program’s longtime junior varsity coach, said it
has been a smooth transition for him to the Indians’ top spot.
“A lot of the girls know me from the JV ream and they know what to
expect from me,” he said. “It’s not like they have to learn a whole
Following a productive summer in which Real said the team was able
to work out some kinks, the coach said his team’s success will hinge
on its ability to perform one task.
“I know my players are probably tired of hearing it, but the most
important thing in this game is passing,” he said. “If you can’t pass
well, you’re not going to do well. We are going to have to pass well
to be successful and we have worked a lot on that in practice.”
Real said he will rely on a small group of players to carry the
Making sure the Indian players get the ball is junior setter Erin
Moore, who will have the benefit of setting up senior twins Alisa
Smirth (6-2) and Stephanie Smirth (6-1), who give Burroughs some
Senior middle blocker Ashley Beckwith and senior outside hitter
Cassie Mello should give the team some punch.
Taking part in the Foothill League, Real said the competition
should be tough this season. However, he also said it is a goal to
make it to the playoffs.
“I don’t care if we make it as a wild-card or what, we just want
to get into the playoffs any way we can,” said Real, whose team was
7-14, 0-10 a year ago.
First-year Bulldog Coach Wayne Tang takes over the program after
serving as head boys’ coach for two seasons at San Marino.
Burbank (9-7, 3-7), which made it to the playoffs two seasons ago,
will be regrouping after losing three of its best players -- Lindsey
Davenport, Jennifer Anderson and Kristin Talamantes -- to graduation.
Despite the losses, Tang said he has high hopes for the season.
“All I ask of the players is that they work hard,” Tang said. “If
you work hard, good things will come out of it.
“I think we have some good players on the team and I am expecting
them to learn a lot and hopefully we will be successful.”
Leading the way is senior outside hitter Samantha Rivero, who will
probably be the team’s go-to player.
Tang also said he expects good things from senior Mackenzie
Cogswell, who can play a variety of positions.
“Other than those two players, we will have to wait and see who is
going to make an impact on this team,” Tang said.
As far as league is concerned, Tang said he knows the going will
“I have seen the teams in the Foothill League in tournaments and
other games,” he said. “I know there are going to be some very good
teams and we will have some tough teams to beat.”