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Hilltop Lancers to field young girls volleyball squad Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 09 2011 01:12 PM

The Hilltop Lancers finished in the middle of the pack in last year’s competitive Mesa League girls volleyball championship race, ending the season with an appearance in the San Diego Section Division II playoffs.

The 2011 Lancer squad, according to HHS head coach Chris Spalding, will be on the young side but the team has not foregone a challenging schedule.

“We will be a very young squad this season and this year’s schedule for Hilltop will rugged and ultra competitive,” he said.

The Lancers will host the third annual Hilltop Invitational in October. Among the entered teams are Westlake from the Southern Section and North Monterey County from the Central Coast Section.

The Lancers will also travel to Santa Cruz for the second consecutive year to participate in the Harbor Varsity Invitational where the team will play against several very tough and accomplished programs such as Palo Alto, Aptos, Salinas and North Salinas.

Hilltop finished 13-13 overall, 5-5 in league play, last season. The Lancers ended their season with a 3-0 loss to Point Loma in the opening round of the playoffs.

Top returners include senior setter Aida Martinez and sophomore outside hitter Hannah Teague.

Martinez started as the team’s defensive specialist last season as a junior while Teague started at the OH position as a freshman.

Because of the team’s youth, other key positions will be filled by varsity newcomers. Among those student-athletes expected to make an impact are senior right side/outside hitter Colleen Rasmussen, junior defensive specialist Brianna Du Pleissis, sophomore middle blocker Emily Nicholas and sophomore outside hitter Brigitte Young.

Rasmussen, DuPlessis and Young are all up from last year’s junior varsity team while Nicholas played on the team’s freshman squad.

Despite the team’s youthful slant this season, Spalding said goals remain the same. 

“As in every year, our goal is to advance into the San Diego CIF playoffs, which Hilltop has done the past four seasons, and to have one of our seniors matriculate on to play in college,” the HHS coach said.

Spalding said team pride and composure are a primary focus.

“But above all, whenever we walk into an opponent’s gym or they walk into ours — and irrespective if we win or lose — we will earn our opponents’ respect by playing great defense and that all six girls hit the floor to keep the ball alive ... every point of every match.”

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