FAIRFIELD — The more things change, the more they’re not the same.
As with nearly all sports, the shuffling of the decks between the Monticello Empire League and Solano County Athletic Conference — Fairfield going to the SCAC, Rodriguez to the MEL — means a whole new dynamic.
The Mustangs won at least a piece of five of the last six SCAC crowns with the lone exception being Vanden in 2010.
While the Vikings are again a favorite, their recent 3-2 loss to Benicia notwithstanding, the Mustangs are looking make a statement in the MEL.
Here’s a look at each of the city teams:
The Vikings had their world rocked a little bit during Tuesday’s win over Vallejo when standout senior setter, the driver of their 5-1 offense, had to leave after rolling her ankle.
In her absence over “the next couple matches,” coach Cindy Scolavino will have plenty of other returners to count on.
The group includes outside hitter Jewels Putman, middle and right-side hitter Yolanda Gillotte, right-side hitter Taylor Trummble and setter/defensive specialist Morgan Jandreau, all seniors. Also back is solid middle and right-side hitter Meghan Herout, a sophomore.
Leading a talented group of newcomers is freshman middle and outside hitter Kamra Jackson. Also new are setter/right-side hitter Annalyse Silva, defensive specialists Brenna VanZant and Alexis McMahon, middle and right-side hitters Aliya Crowder and Michaela Copp, and defensive specialist/right-side hitter Tana Groner.
“We have the capability of a power attack from all sides,” Scolavino said. “Our front row defense is big and getting around our blocks will be an issue for our competition. We have ‘tough’ serves and can keep our opponents off balance, forcing broken plays.”
Regarding the new alignment, first-year coach Herb Horder said, “I would like to think that it strengthens the league and makes every game a competitive one.”
Back as starters for the Mustangs and Horder are senior libero Jesse Scolavino, junior middle blocker Claudia Diaz and sophomore right-side hitter Ysabel Rose.
Also returning are outside hitter Tori Bruce, senior middle blockers Deonna Smisek, Brianna Krystek and Makayla Salazar, and defensive specialist Emerald Ramos.
New to the team are setter Jade Horder and outside hitter, Megan Bohorquez.
Herb Horder sees as the strength of his team “athleticism and speed. We are not very big but we have good athleticism which allows us to play a faster style of offense. . . . Since we will be one of the smaller teams in the MEL we will need to be able to cope with the size of the other schools. We need to use our speed to our advantage. If we can keep the bigger teams off balance we will have a chance.”
The Falcons haven’t won a league match over someone other than Armijo since the last time they were in the SCAC in 2005. They’re looking to change that with Adeanna Murray as coach of both the varsity and JV.
Murray will have a lot of familiar faces on the squad. Among the returners are setter Javona Hill, outside hitter/middle blocker Kaila Tyson, middle hitters Talia Glenn, Hope Driscoll, right-side hitters S’Deja Alfred and Ebony Hughes, outside hitters Jasmine Tataique, Karsyn Livingston and Denise Johnson, defensive specialists Jashaina Thomas, Michelle Santiago, Jada Davison and Victoria Correa and libero Shariel Santiago.
New to the Falcons is setter/outside hitter Cassandra Salcido.
“The Varsity team has more height this season then I have seen in the past few years, making it easier to run more offensive plays,” Murray said. “Many of them played club during the off season which sharpened their volleyball knowledge and skills.”
The Indians once again look to turn the corner and do so with third-year junior outside hitter Mariah Reyes and second-year senior setter Maivan Le leading the way.
Also back are senior libero Breanna Davidson and senior outside hitter Reyana Aquitania, with middle hitters Seghen Woldai and Mari Nelson, and outside/opposite hitter Jessica Pamatian, all juniors, new to the team.
“This year’s team is short but scrappy,” Armijo coach Carly Perales said. “We have a lot of girls who are willing to get on the floor, move their feet and stick their noses in on digs. Our team chemistry seems very strong as this group works well together and communicates on the floor.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.