The Sixth Annual Girls Volleyball Rally Classic at Sweetwater High School wasn’t an official match for any of the teams competing in the quadruple-header.
For the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) San Diego Section, which organized the matches, it was a mechanism to raise money to send section teams to state and regional tournaments.
For Ramona High School’s volleyball team as well as the other seven teams that played in the tournament on Aug. 31, it was a chance for coaches to assess their players in a competitive environment.
“It doesn’t count for anything,” said Ramona Coach Connie Halfaker. “It was a good opportunity to kind of see what we’ve got to work on.”
Rally Classic results do not count in regular-season records, nor do the matches count toward a team’s maximum number of permissible scrimmages. The teams played a best-of-three format, and Ramona swept Santana in two games.
“We are already done with all the basics,” Halfaker said. “Now it’s just improving skill levels and skill techniques and speeding things up and making sure we’ve got communication at all times.”
Ramona’s overall record in 2008 was 11-19, including a first-round CIF Division II playoff win over Helix and a CIF quarterfinal loss to Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel, who had been seeded second in the Division II playoffs, is also a Valley League opponent of Ramona, who placed fourth in last year’s conference standings with a 5-7 league record. Ramona’s 2008 matches also include four wins and five losses in the Palm Desert Tournament which do not count in the Bulldogs’ overall record because they were not regulation-length matches.
That 2008 record included a 5-15 start. Before current senior setter Bailey Kotas recovered from off-season surgery, the 2008 team included only two returning starters.
The 2008 team also included only two senior starters—outside hitter Cassie Miller and middle blocker Shelby Bush—along with senior defensive specialist Makenzie Taylor. This year’s 12-girl roster includes nine players who were on the 2008 varsity.
The only returning all-league player is senior Jaycee Arthur, who was a middle blocker last year. This year she will be taking Miller’s place as an outside hitter. Senior Morgan Gross, who had been slated as a right side hitter for 2008 before replacing Kotas during the starting setter’s absence, has been moved to middle blocker while junior Grace Hallams, who also spent time as a setter in 2008, is being moved to the right side hitter position.
“They are doing very well,” Halfaker said of the players’ adjustments to new positions.
Junior outside hitter Terra Klem and junior libero Tori Sheppard return to their 2008 starting positions. Senior Kayla Lawlor, who spent some time as a right side hitter in 2008 but was primarily a reserve last year, will be the other starting middle blocker.
Senior Hillary Roloff will fill in as a middle blocker when needed, and senior defensive specialist Allie Ferguson returns as a varsity reserve.
The three new players to the varsity are all juniors who spent last year on the junior varsity: outside hitter Kayla Duggeln, utility player Becca Hickle, and defensive specialist Makenzie Miller.
“We’re very hard-working, very focused,” Halfaker said. “They are self-motivated, they are team-oriented, very supportive to one another.”
Jeff Klauda will return as Halfaker’s assistant on the varsity team. Last year’s junior varsity coach, Brad Carter, has moved to Illinois and 2006 Ramona High School graduate Kyle Adelman will take over the JV helm. Michelle Winchell and Cierra Owens will coach the freshman squad.
Since the Rally Classic did not count toward the maximum number of permissible scrimmages, the Bulldogs were also able to participate in a seven-way scrimmage Sept. 3 at Granite Hills.
“They are serious about getting about business and playing ball,” Halfaker said. “They’ve put their nose to the ball and they are not looking back.”
Halfaker, a San Pasqual High School graduate, won’t be looking back at her own high school participation when the Bulldogs open their actual season Sept. 11 at San Pasqual.
“We’re pretty excited about how frustrating we’re going to be to other teams,” Halfaker said. “If a team beats us, it’s because they had to work very hard to do it. We’re going to make it very difficult to score points on us.”