In recent memory, Sierra College Volleyball has dominated both the Big 8 Conference and California community college volleyball, making appearances at the CCCAA state championships, participating in playoff appearances every year this decade, and winning four straight Big 8 titles since 2016. The 2019 team continued that tradition of excellence, with yet another Big 8 conference championship, NorCal final appearance and finished in the top 16 in the state and the top eight in northern California.
The season began as a turbulent one, with Sierra coming out of their first four games at just 2-2. As head coach Vera Nelson says of her team during the first half of the season, "our mental toughness and maturity was a constant struggle." About mid way through their Big 8 schedule, however, the Wolverines squad began to come together, and ended the league with huge wins over American River and Delta to end their 2019 league schedule as Big 8 co-champions – Sierra's fourth straight title. "Towards the end of the conference season, the team worked daily on their metal game. I think this helped them with some huge victories at the end of conference, beating ARC in 5 and sweeping Delta."
The relatively young team returned just four sophomores from last year, but those sophomore players were crucial to the teams success. Sophomores Ashley Almond, Kristina Bueno, Cloe Gunter and Alyssa Orteza were key players both on the court and in welcoming the freshman class."They created a welcoming environment to the 12 incoming freshman and provided the leadership to help this young group mature into a team that could compete in the tough Big 8 conference," said coach Nelson of her sophomore class.
Sierra's 2019 season was also underscored by impressive freshman performances, including NorCal volleyball athlete of the week for freshman Alyssa Lovell. "The freshman class has been one of the best Sierra has had," says coach Nelson. "I am looking forward to watching them continue to develop their skills both mentally and physically to compete at the top state level."
Sierra displayed impressive offensive prowess this year, leading to 1,357 kills in 30 games, the third most kills of any team in the state. In addition, Sierra was third in assists with 1,275, third in block assists with 301, fifth in total attacks with 3,757, fourth in points with 1,781.5 and 19th in digs with 1,597. *
Despite the shaky start to the season, the 2019 volleyball team exceeded expectations to accrue a record of 22-8, win the Big 8 conference, advance to the NorCal regional finals and add yet another postseason appearance to the programs record books. "Overall, their incredible improvement is a testament to their hard work and drive" says Nelson. "They truly matured into a very cohesive and fiercely competitive team."
* Statistics mentioned in this article are based on data pulled on Monday, December 2 2019. For current stats, visit Sierra's page on the CCCAA website.