Spartans' construction project set

The "under construction" signs lining La Cañada High's campus could also be slapped on their boys' volleyball team.

Summer has been a rebuilding time for second-year Coach David Woo. His team is participating in a nine-week program where once a week it competes against other local teams at Eagle Rock High, playing a minimum of three matches each night.

"This summer league is good because everyone has been building," Woo said. "The competition is a little bit different, but it's good because everyone is rebuilding. You've got to make do with what you have.

"The first week we were competitive against most of the other teams, but we had mental lapses at times. It is kind of expected because it's a brand new team."

During his first year as head coach, Woo led his team to the playoffs for the first time in four years. The squad went 5-3 in the Rio Hondo League and 16-13 overall, finishing second in league.

The revival of the program will have to continue without nine graduating seniors, including three all-league players. Woo is forced to rely on a group of fresh faces to step up and contribute on the varsity squad next year.

Jamie Pierce and Tim Lee, two outside hitters, both made all-league first-team and received All-Area nods last season. Woo said the hardest position for him to fill will be setter, following the departure of second-team all-leaguer Jeff Facer, who also graduated.

The Spartans are hoping to continue the transformation from an also-ran to a serious contender for a league title. Their summer workouts will hopefully have them in mid-season form by the start of the year.

"I am getting a new nucleus in, so I want to get them in early," Woo said. "It's kind of like on-the-job training for them."

The team's young athletes have grasped the basics, like serving, setting and passing, but hitting will take some time to perfect, Woo said.

So far, Woo has been impressed with the team and its work ethic, but expects to see improvements once the regular season starts. Once he gets more time with the new players, he can see them contributing next season, he said.

"The chemistry isn't there yet," Woo said. "But the new players have been coming to get an early start and are trying to store as much as they can before the season starts."

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