The MSJC women's volleyball team is coming off a season where they won 16 matches, the most for the program since 2008, and they are setting their goals even higher this year as they get ready to kick off their 2015 season this weekend at the LA Pierce Tournament.
Second year Head Coach Serinna Russo-Eason is excited for the 2015 season and has set lofty goals for her team that include finishing in the top three of the highly competitive Pacific Coast Athletic Conference and qualifying for the State play-offs. "Our number one goal is to make it to the play-offs", said Russo-Eason who's team finished last season with a 16-9 overall record and a 9-7 mark in PCAC play.
The Lady Eagles will have to replace Taylor Kushner, who led the state in kills last season, but Russo-Eason thinks her team's depth will help fill that void. "We have a lot more dynamic offensive team this year", said Russo-Eason "We can utilize a lot of different hitters from a lot of different positions with our three middle system". MSJC does have a solid core of returning players who saw a lot of action last season led by middle blocker Mercedes Bree, outside hitter Katie Foster, and defensive specialist and setter Ashley Cork. Bree led the Lady Eagles last season in blocks with 35 solo blocks and 64 total on the season. She also was 4th on the team with 82 kills a season ago. Foster had 37 kills during her freshman campaign and Cork was 4th on the team in digs with 189 as a freshman. "Our returning group has really done a nice job of stepping up into leadership roles," added Russo-Eason
MSJC has also loaded up on new talent for the 2015 season and three of the newcomers will be in starting roles on Friday to kick off the season. Dayanerrah Taoete, Hannah Schaffer, and Sabrina Latteri will be looked to right out of the gate to provide both offensive and defensive punch for the Lady Eagles. Taoete from Heritage High School is a versatile player who will play multiple positions for MSJC this season. Schaffer a Paloma Valley grad is also a versatile player who is listed as a right side hitter, but will also do some setting during the year. Latteri, from Vista Murrieta High, is an athletic 5'9 outside hitter.
Russo-Eason also added an assistant coach this off season, Natalie Allen. Allen played at Cal State Northridge and also coaches with Club 951. "Adding Coach Natalie with her experience has really helped us this summer as well".
Looking forward to this weekend's season opening tournament the Lady Eagles initial goal is to show that they are competitive with some of the best teams in the state. "The tournament this weekend has some really stiff competition, and we want to go out and show that we can compete, win or lose," said Russo-Eason "We have a very tough non conference schedule that should prepare us for the PCAC".
MSJC's first match will be Friday morning at 10am when they take on Bakersfield College in the opening round of the Pierce Tourney. The Lady Eagles will play either Palomar or Cypress later in the day. MSJC will also play two matches on Saturday to round out the opening weekend. After a tough opening three weeks on the road the Lady Eagles first home match of the season will be on Wednesday September 23rd at 5 pm.
Mercedes Bree (top right) returns for her sophomore season after leading the Lady Eagles in blocks last season as a freshman. Head Coach Serinna Russo-Eason (bottom left) is back for her second season looking to build on 16 wins last year. MSJC opens the volleyball season Friday at 10 am against Bakersfield in the first round of the LA Pierce Tournament. (photos DeeAnn Bradley/MSJC)