Cambrian: Sports

Coast Union volleyball team gears up for playoffs

Senior Reagan Kniffen, left, and junior Emily McAvoy are primed to give their best in the upcoming volleyball playoffs.
Senior Reagan Kniffen, left, and junior Emily McAvoy are primed to give their best in the upcoming volleyball playoffs. Special to The Cambrian

It’s volleyball playoff time again. As has been true for nine of the past 10 years, Coast Union’s varsity volleyball team has a date with the CIF Division 7 postseason party.

While the Lady Broncos still have matches this week — on Tuesday, Nov. 3, they traveled to Maricopa for their final Coast Valley League tilt before hosting Dunn School on Thursday — as winners of the CVL, they fully expect to have a home playoff match next week.

Junior middle hitter Emily McAvoy and senior defensive specialist Reagan Kniffen were interviewed last week on campus about their roles on the 2015 team, about their preparations for the playoffs and about their futures once they graduate from Coast Union.

Both student athletes play basketball right after volleyball season ends, and they know that while they are finishing up their volleyball season — heading into the playoffs — the basketball team is beginning practice.

Asked about the week off before the last two matches of the season, McAvoy said she would have rather had a week off just before playoffs, and Kniffen agreed.

But on the other hand, Kniffen said, “We’ve been playing nonstop since August,” so the week off was welcomed, especially for head coach Pam Kenyon, who has suffered a relapse in her battle against colon cancer.

How is this team’s leadership stack up in comparison to last year’s? “Four of us girls that were on last year’s team brought what we had from last year to this team,” Kniffen said.

McAvoy said she doesn’t see herself as a leader, “but I try to be one — I’m pretty quiet on the court, actually.”

“Her skills are fierce though,” Kniffen interjected.

Both players are looking forward to basketball because they have a new coach, Bobby Youngs, who had success as the boys hoops coach last season.

“I’m so excited,” Kniffen said. “I don’t want volleyball to end, but I’m really looking forward to basketball.”

“I do like volleyball and I’m bummed about it ending,” McAvoy added. “But I am excited about our new basketball coach.”

As to the strengths of this year’s volleyball team, “I would say our serving right now is super tough. Our offense is killer. We have Xue DiMaggio, Gigi Stoothoff, and all around we’re pretty solid.

“Right now we’re having trouble with communication on the court. We will be playing big teams in loud gyms, so we need to stay connected.

“We need to feel each other’s vibe on the court, and that’s really important.”

McAvoy added: “We need to know where everyone is without having to look at everyone. It’s just something you need to know after awhile.”

What has been the highlight so far this season? Both players immediately responded by pointing to the upset victory at Nipomo in October. Coast Union hadn’t defeated Nipomo (1,117 students) in many years.

But on Sept. 30, the Lady Broncos turned the tables on the Titans, 3-2.

“They had their football team in the gym making a lot of noise, but they didn’t break us,” Kniffen said.

“That game was our tip top best of the year.”

“We were doing everything we were supposed to do,” McAvoy added.

As to their favorite sports, as much as

McAvoy enjoys volleyball, “basketball just clicks for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing basketball since I was a really little kid. But in volleyball, there’s always that little tiny thing that I need to get better at.”

After graduation Kniffen — who likes basketball and volleyball about equally — plans to attend a school “in a bigger city” and major in business administration. “That’s going to be the best path for me to take.”

McAvoy hopes to pursue a career in travel journalism. “I love to write, and traveling sounds like a lot of fun.”

First things first, for both athletes: the volleyball playoffs, then making the basketball team strong enough to reach the playoffs as well.

Cross Country SLO County Championship Meet

Coast Union’s last competition of the season took place at Laguna Lake on Saturday, Oct. 31 — the San Luis Obispo County Cross Country Championships.

Bella Raethke made the All-County Freshman Team with a time of 22 minutes, 27 seconds. The top seven finishers in each grade receive All-County designation; Raethke was among the top seven freshmen and placed 28th overall.

The other Coast Union girls’ times: Vanessa Ramirez 96th (26:22); and Iveth De Jesus 99th (26:47).

On the boys side: Paul Butterfield 41st (18:23); Dante Garcia 79th (19:41); Nic Roper 138th (23:52); David May 141st (25:13); Tyler Seng 146th (25:51); and Caesar Hernandez 153rd (31:03).