Last year at this time, the Pacifica Christian girls volleyball team was rolling through its schedule on a way to a CIF Southern Section Division 4A championship game appearance against Rolling Hills Prep.
The Seawolves entered the contest having already disposed of Rolling Hills Prep earlier in the season and just about gone roughshod everyone else on its way to posting an outstanding 30-2 mark.
The Seawolves went through the first founds of the CIF championship tournament dispatching Duarte, Cate, Archer School for Girls, and St. Anthony with relative ease, sweeping those four teams by winning 12 games and dropping only two. But against Rolling Hills Prep, the magic stopped. So did Pacifica Christian’s dream of a title.
The Seawolves dropped the first set 25-15, and wound up coming up on the short of the stick, losing to Rolling Hills Prep, 3-2. It was a devastating defeat, said Pacifica Christian head coach Julie Bennett. Bennett, who was assistant coach to Billy Allen last season, said it loss was a tough one to swallow, especially for the players.
“They were heartbroken,” Bennett said. “Everyone felt like they let everyone else down. They were very upset.”
Well, with returning stars Grace Minchin and Maile Lane back in the fold, Pacifica Christian seems to have responded to that defeat to do quite well this season. The Seawolves are just coming off winning the Brentwood Tournament, and have recorded another stellar season, rolling to a 16-4 overall record after beating Buckley, and sitting on top of the Liberty League volleyball standings.
Minchin and Lane, who leads the team in kills and digs, are the top players for the Seawolves. Minchin, who is weighing where she will be attending college in the fall, is a player that Bennett sees as being good enough to play at the next level. The first year head coach feels the same about Lane, who is just a junior.
“Everyone can always count on them,” Bennett said. “Grace Minchin, she’ll be playing somewhere at the next level. Maile Lane will be playing somewhere.”
But Bennett has other players who have also stepped up to the plate and contributed as well. Elizabeth Hooks (serves) and Shannon Volpis (blocks) are a couple other players that the Seawolves counted on this season.
“We have a lot of girls from last year’s team,” Bennett said. “It is a good combination of leadership. Everyone has a different role.”
But all in all, this has been a season of learning on the fly for both coach and players. One of the adjustments has been teaching her team about getting a bit tougher, said Bennett.
Building toughness in the team is something she has to continually work on, said Bennett. After going through a mid-season slump where the team dropped a couple of games, that toughness seems to have come around just in time for the postseason.
“I have a different style of coaching,” Bennett said. As a female the players can relate more emotionally. I have been trying to work with them on their mental toughness.”