Fri, Nov 01 2013 01:14 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
It’s been a bold new beginning — or, at least, an exciting makeover — for the Metro Conference this fall in girls volleyball as the conference has split into three leagues.
The new leagues follow the previous split for football, but with the exception that league membership is based on geographic location rather than competition level.
The Metro-Mesa League includes Bonita Vista, Eastlake, Otay Ranch, Mater Dei Catholic and Olympian.
The Metro-Pacific League includes Chula Vista, Hilltop, Castle Park and Sweetwater.
The Metro-South Bat League includes Montgomery, Mar Vista, San Ysidro and Southwest.
League play began Oct. 23 in the Metro-Pacific League and followed with games last Friday and on Wednesday. Hilltop appears to be the early front-runner after defeating each of its three league opponents in first-round play.
The Lancers defeated host Sweetwater 25-23, 25-11, 25-23 on Oct. 23 and then swept visiting Castle Park by scores of 25-23, 25-13, 25-18 last Friday.
Hannah Teague paced Hilltop’s victory last Friday with eight kills and 11 digs while teammate Catherine Bajo contributed 10 digs and two aces.
Teague recorded 12 kills and three aces in the win over Sweetwater.
Chula Vista defeated Castle Park 25-21, 25-19, 25-20 in the teams’ first-ever Metro-Pacific League match. Carly McCoy paced the victorious Spartans with 10 kills and five blocks while teammate Janan Salaam recorded five aces.
The opening round of league play concluded Wednesday as Hilltop swept visiting Chula Vista and Castle Park dropped a 3-1 match to visiting Sweetwater.
The Lancers finished the opening round with a spotless 3-0 league record after compiling a 25-20, 25-11, 25-16 win. Emily Nicholas led the hosts with seven kills, five aces and 24 assists while Brigitte Young recorded eight digs.
The second round of league play, which starts Friday, will feature games at opposite sites.
Coaches and players are generally supportive of the new league format.
“The competition make-up is a little better than before,” Chula Vista coach Joey Espinoza said.
“This is really great — it gives new teams a chance to win league and a chance to play teams we hadn’t before,” Sweetwater coach Erik Hernandez said. “The smaller teams get to see more competition.”
Hernandez is hoping the new league format transitions smoothly into the San Diego Section divisional playoffs, which have also been reformatted.
The Red Devils will compete in the Division III competition tier instead of the Division I enrollment level.
“It gives us a better chance to make the playoffs and not be up against all the Division I powerhouses,” Hernandez said. “It makes the girls feel like they have a chance — that all their hard work will benefit them.”
Hilltop, which improved to 19-12 following Wednesday’s sweep, last won a league championship in 1982.
HHS coach Shannon Slatter expressed more mixed feelings about the releaguing. “We have six seniors on our team this year, many of whom have played since they were freshmen or sophomores, so it gives them a chance to end their careers by hanging (a banner) on the wall.”
Sweetwater is 13-14, Chula Vista is 5-12 and Castle Park is 3-10.
Castle Park won last year’s South Bay League title with a 12-0 record.
Teague leads Hilltop with 186 kills, followed by teammate Janelle Ayala with 156. Ayala tops the team with 61 aces, followed by Nicholas with 60. Ayala also leads the team with 87 blocked shots while Young tops the team with 240 digs, followed by Teague with 228 and Bajo with 181. Nicholas is the team’s assist leader with 522.
Sweetwater’s Kimberly Gutierrez, a member of the Mexican U18 national team, is averaging 5.7 kills per set. She recently returned with Team Mexico from the youth world championship tournament in Thailand.
Prior to opening league play, Hilltop went undefeated in four match-ups against teams from the new Metro-South Bay League.
On the court
Teams in both the Metro-Pacific League and Metro-South Bay League will each play six league games while teams in the Metro-Mesa League will play eight league games.
Bonita Vista leads the Metro-Mesa League standings with a 6-0 record after defeating visiting Olympian by scores of 25-18, 25-9, 25-13 on Monday. Prior to that, the Barons swept host Mater Dei Catholic 25-9, 25-14, 25-17 last Friday.
The Barons host arch rival Eastlake next Wednesday, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Eastlake sits second in the league standings with a 4-1 record after defeating visiting Mater Dei Catholic on Wednesday 25-9, 25-17, 25-12.
Otay Ranch is 3-2 in league play while Olympian is 1-5 and Mater Dei Catholic is 0-6.
Metro-Mesa teams have proven especially competitive in non-league play this fall. Bonita Vista is 21-7 overall, followed by Otay Ranch (17-10), Olympian (16-14), Eastlake (9-15) and Mater Dei Catholic (8-17).
League play concludes Nov. 8, followed by the San Diego Section playoffs.
Allie Loitz leads Bonita Vista with 338 kills, followed by teammate Makena Wilson with 189. Loitz also leads the Barons with 52 aces and 61 blocks while Megan Riley tops the team with 373 digs, followed by Loitz with 221. Taimane Napoleon is the team’s assist leader with 550.
Grecia Cordero leads Otay Ranch with 244 kills, followed by teammate Shayne Mojica with 209. Mojica tops the team with 50 aces while Cordero ranks next with 40. Shania Anderson and Kezia Flores pace the team lead with 30 and 29 blocks, respectively, while Cordeo paces the team with 256 digs, followed by Mojica with 230 and Megan Angerstein with 228. Dominique Conrady is the team’s assist leader with 362.
Khalia Jordan leads Olympian with 241 kills, followed by Lauren Appleman with 167. Jordan has the team lead with 50 aces while Elle Dayrit tops the team with 88 blocks. Yvette Macias paces the team with 340 digs while Krista Schmidt tops the team with 239 assists.
In the Metro-South Bay League, Montgomery (13-5 overall) opened up a 3-0 lead after defeating league rival Southwest 26-24, 25-10, 25-18 last Friday. Previously, the Aztecs defeated host Mar Vista 25-18, 18-25, 25-19, 25-18 on Oct. 23 and visiting Southwest 25-9, 25-23, 25-14 on Oct. 21.
In four games against teams from the new Metro-Pacific League, the Aztecs went 3-1, losing only to Hilltop.
Early season Montgomery leaders included Kia Clark and Lysette Serna in kills, Evangeline Morga in digs and Mikayla Anaya in assists.
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