NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Practices have been vigorous for the members of the Glendale Community College women's volleyball team leading up to their season opener.
Already faced with meeting two-time defending state champion L.A. Pierce in a pair of Western State Conference South Division matches and playing a difficult nonconference schedule, Glendale college Coach Yvette Ybarra said she'd like for the Vaqueros to be up to speed before they begin their season at 3 p.m. Aug. 31 against Santa Barbara City College in the Pasadena City College Quad Tournament.
"We still need to work on a couple of things, like our serve-receiving," said Ybarra, whose team finished 9-16, 4-8 in conference for fifth place last season. "If you can't pass and serve-receive, then you can't get any points.
"We also want to keep working on our court awareness so that we know where to be at all times and it will give us a better chance at winning. We are going to play teams from other conferences [around Southern California] to get them prepared [for the division]. We'll be watching film from our games and breaking down different things."
Ybarra would like nothing more than to have the Vaqueros rise in the conference standings with a top-three finish being a main goal.
The Vaqueros will return four players to their 13-member squad, including middle blocker Angie Gaignard and setter Laila Souktani. The duo received all-conference honorable mention last season. The other returners will be Lisa Monarrez, an outside hitter/opposite, and middle blocker/opposite hitter Amanda Sadia.
Ybarra said the quartet will be expected to provide leadership and help pave the way for a smooth transition for the incoming cast of new players.
"They all know how to lead and they have been accepted by the newer players," Ybarra said. "I think we will definitely be a scrappy team, especially on defense."
The freshman crew will consist of libero/defensive specialist Katherine Escobar, outside hitter/opposite Brooke Forrester, middle blocker Stephanie Hernandez, outside hitter/opposite Kristin Arkosy, middle blocker/opposite Ashlie Valmonte, libero Genesis Hill, libero/defensive specialist Elise Kwon and opposite hitter Jennifer Estrada.
Ybarra, whose team will begin division action Sept. 28 against visiting College of the Canyons, said she's eager to see her latest recruiting class compete in match situations.
"I've looked at their responses on the court during practices and they all want to be coached, " Ybarra said. "We want them to buy into our system and I can see their attitudes and their willingness to learn and get better."
Gaignard said the Vaqueros' depth should work to their advantage.
"I think it will allow us to do a lot of different things," Gaignard said. "Going into [the division], we will be the underdogs, but we feel like we have a good team that can do a lot of positive things.
"We all have a positive attitude. The key for us will be executing and knowing where we are supposed to be on the court."
The Vaqueros will wrap up the regular season with a division home match against Bakersfield on Nov. 9.