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Eagles strive for new heights

Led by seniors Obert, Duffin, Humes, Del Oro expecting big things
By: Joshua Ansley Journal Sports Writer
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Del Oro High volleyball has enough height this season to terrify any opponent standing in its way. The Golden Eagles played an exhibition match Monday against a Placer High team that won the Pioneer Valley League title the last two years. Not only did the team beat Placer 3-0, the Eagles continued their hot start Tuesday night at Oak Ridge, beating the Trojans 3-0. Del Oro has three starters over six feet tall with senior Belle Obert at 6-1, junior Tatum Jungsten at 6-1, and senior Aly Duffin at 6-0. Seven players are returning from the 2009 season that boasted a record of 25-7 overall, and 8-4 in the Sierra Foothill League. As for the juniors coming up, 14-year Del Oro High coach Stuart Kageta said the team is stacked with athleticism. His biggest concern is how the juniors lack of experience will play out at the beginning of the season. “We may not start as strong as we would like,” Kageta said. “We have a lot of good athletes and really good height. We just have to develop them into varsity players. We’ll get better as we go.” Part of that process of development involved a team-building trip to Donner Lake and Tahoe over the summer. The girls did some sand training and spent time talking and bonding together. Whether or not it was the trip, or just the combination of players, this year’s team is unlikely to fold internally. “We are a lot closer as a team,” Obert said. “Everyone talks to everyone else and we communicate better.” Obert made the all-Sierra Foothill League first team last year as a junior while leading Del Oro with 272 kills. She has a verbal agreement to play volleyball at Butler University in 2011-12 and is currently on the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American watch list for 2010-11. Kageta said that Obert is one of those leaders that lead by example with her consistency on both offense and defense. “The girls really rely on her,” he said. While Obert is clearly the leader of the team, the rest of the girls are not far behind. Senior captain Ally Duffin is beginning her third year on varsity. Last year she compiled 145 digs, 258 kills, and 174 points. Del Oro’s third captain and setter is 5-8 senior Bailey Humes who scored 195 points last year along with 79 kills. She said playing club in the off-season has made her just that much better. “I’ve gotten a lot better at fooling the blocker,” Humes said. Kageta said Humes has really come into her own. “She’s really improved,” he said. “She has embraced a leadership role and the players voted her in unanimously as captian.” Joining Obert at the outside hitter position will either be senior Cassandra Palma or sophomore Morgan Lees as both girls are still vying for the starting position. Senior Karissa Willis will start at right side hitter. The Golden Eagles biggest change this season will be the loss of outside hitter Kate Kessler, who led the team with 450 digs and 481 returns. The team also lost excellent players in middle blocker Hannah Oros who had 157 kills and outside hitter Emily Mattevi with 245 kills. Del Oro’s first league match will be against Rocklin on Sept. 30, which both Humes and Obert said is Del Oro’s toughest competition. Kageta agrees that Rocklin is the team Del Oro wants to beat, but he said every game is tough in the SFL. “Our toughest opponent is probably Rocklin,” Kageta said. “But the SFL is the toughest in the section. Any given night any team could win in this league.”