Her team, second-year Valley Christian Academy girls volleyball coach Rebecca Maples said, does not have much in the way of experience.

"We are very young, both in terms of age and volleyball experience," Maples said after Shandon swept the Lions 3-0 in a Coast Valley League match at VCA Thursday. Set scores were 25-23, 25-18, 25-18.

Shandon (3-1, 2-1) had no reserves Thursday. VCA (1-5, 1-3) had one.

"We carry seven players," said Maples. "We have only two varsity returners, Lindsay Mikkelson and Kassidy Heller. One of our players, our freshman setter Gabby Sassenberg, did play club volleyball with Ocean's Elite."

VCA has no seniors. The team's outside hitters are Heller, a junior, and sophomore Jenna Mason. The middle hitters are junior Emilie Czap, sophomore Alayna Kerley and sophomore Hannah McCoy.

Sassenberg is the setter. Mikkelson, a sophomore, plays on the right side.  

Mikkelson was VCA's hitting leader Thursday night, and Rebecca Maples said that is the way it has been throughout the young campaign.

"Lindsay leads us in hitting and in digs," said the Lions' coach. "She is determined to get to every ball."

The Lions got an early lead in each set, but never could hold their advantage. Down 6-4 in the third set when Angela Ramirez started her service series, the Outlaws took command when Ramirez served nine unanswered points.

The junior started her run with three consecutive aces. Her last one put the Outlaws ahead for good, 7-6.

Ramirez and Shayley Cuellar gave Shandon some steady hitting and, over time in each set, the Outlaws simply hit with more authority and made fewer errors than the Lions did.

During each set, the Lions would have a good run then have coverage problems, particularly in the middle on their side of the floor.

Maples said the match typified how the young season has gone for her young squad so far — stretches of good play then inconsistency.

"Consistency has definitely been a problem for us," said Maples.

"We're on a learning curve. It's a process. Most of the girls are actually basketball players."

Valley Christian Academy varsity boys basketball coach Chris Maples is Rebecca Maples' husband. "We moved out here from Michigan two years ago," Rebecca Maples said.

"Basketball is the love out here. There is not a love of volleyball here yet. I think these girls will be the ones who will get the love, the interest, for volleyball going out here."

The Lions won back-to-back sectional girls basketball titles under Stan Bickley in the early 2000's. Pete Fortier, the current VCA athletic director, guided the Lions to another sectional girls basketball championship, in 2014. VCA defeated Los Angeles Shalhevet in the title game.

"Our girls play in basketball leagues during the summer," said Rebecca Maples. "Last summer we had one night of volleyball a week, in a park.

"We brought in a coach, Caleb Sibert who is an assistant coach at the University of South Florida, and he gave the girls an intense week of fundamental skills and volleyball strategy."

Rebecca Maples said, "It helped huge. We are trying to take steps up, and he was a step up for us."

Her team has won just one match so far, but Rebecca Maples said her players have made a lot of progress since the season began.

"When the season started, the girls didn't know how to make proper passes, didn't know proper rotations," VCA's coach said.

The Lions will play at the Shandon Tournament Saturday.

Mission Prep 3, Nipomo 1

The Royals defeated the Titans (2-5) in a non-league match at Nipomo. Set scores were 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 25-18.

Jasmine Vongvone racked up 13 kills and eight digs for the Titans. Her sister, Kaitlyn Vongvone, had 26 assists. Kat Anderson had 13 digs and four blocks for Nipomo.

Girls tennis

Orcutt Academy 7, Santa Maria 2

Five Orcutt singles players won in straight sets, and Riley Speer took a 7-6 (4), 4-6 (10) win in a third set tiebreak as the Spartans moved to 3-7, 3-2 with an Ocean League win over the Saints at the Minami Center.

Kayla Pablo, Melani Amarasekora, Korrina Bender, Isabelle Lopez and Shivani Panchel all won in straight sets for the Spartans. Pablo won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singlse, and Amarasekora dropped one game at No. 2.

Doubles tandems Samantha Gonzalez and Jessica Arredondo, and ALondra Cabrera and Jenny Aquino each garnered a win for the Saints. Genevieve Greco and Ashley Moreno earned Orcutt's doubles point.

St. Joseph 5, Atascadero 4

The Knights (6-0, 2-0) squeezed out a Mountain League win against the Greyhounds in a match that took more than five hours at Atascadero.

The St. Joseph's doubles teams of Michahjuliana Lundberg and Shianne Gooley, at No. 2, and Gina Rigali and Marlee Hernandez, at No. 3, gave the Knights the win. Lundberg and Gooley won 6-0, 6-2. Rigali and Hernandez won 6-2, 6-2.

St. Joseph singles players Emily Wilson, at No. 1, and Janelle Brickey, at No. 6, each took their first loss of the year, but Lundberg, at No. 2, Katelynn Haskell, at No., 3, and Gooley, at No. 4, all won in straight sets, dropping five games between them in the process, to give St. Joseph a split in singles.

Atascadero's Anneline Breytenbach, one of the top players in the area, downed Wilson 7-6 (3), 6-1. Kyla Stokes won at No. 5 singles and Camille Reberg, at No. 6, both won in three sets for the Greyhounds.

Lompoc 12, Pioneer Valley 6

The Braves won a cross-section match at Lompoc. Since the Braves, who play in the CIF Southern Section, were hosting, the match followed a Southern Section format, with players from each team playing three round-robin singles sets and three round-robin doubles sets.

With just eight players, and missing three starters because of illness, the Panthers had to forfeit all three doubles sets at No. 2. Thus, the Braves went 9-0 in doubles. The Panthers were 6-3 in singles.

Counting the walkovers, Braves doubles tandems Cheri baattle and Jessie Elenes, Sandi Fahle and Denise Robles, and Rosa Flores and Hailey Fernandez all went 3-0.

Ashley Barbosa swept three singles sets for the Panthers, and Samantha Ramirez won twice. Dianna Alcantarra earned two Lompoc singles points.  

Girls golf

Eagle Invitational

Medalist Emily Webb led host Arroyo Grande to the team title of the four-team tourney at Cypress Ridge in Arroyo Grande.

Webb shot a 39, and the Eagles shot a team score of 224 over nine holes to win easily. San Luis Obispo was second at 258, Righetti was third at 260 and Atascadero was fourth at 268.

Claire Alford led Righetti with a 40. Katie Bruson led Atascadero with a 42, and Ellery Yasumoto carded a 44 to lead San Luis Obispo.

Arroyo Grande scores behind Webb were Bella Gunasayan's 40, Sidney Pruett's 47, and 49's for Claire Marshall and Siana Patel.

Teammates following Alford were Cameron Reynoso (51), Kira Kase (54), Kayla Minetti (55) and Grace Minetti (60).

Santa Ynez 242, Cabrillo 257, Nipomo 298

The Pirates won a three-team cross-section match over the par 36 nine holes at Monarch Dunes in Nipomo.

Medalist Marina Vengel led the Pirates to the win. Vengel shot a 45.

Kaitlyn Nunez led Nipomo with a 47. Jessie Mandibles and Kelsey Bruner both carded a 49, Cabrillo's best individual score. 

Teammates following Vengel were Morgan Blunt (47), Bridget Callaghan (47), Caelyn Linane (50) and Emily Ruiz 53.

Ellie Mandibles (51), Morgan Hess (52) and Katie Heath (56) followed Bruner and Jessie Mandibles for the Conquistadores.

Lilly Brummitt, at 58, A.J. Jovia, at 60, and Celeste Rojas and Pati Sterling, both at 67, came in behind Nunez for the Titans.

Mission Prep 281, Pioneer Valley 287

The Royals edged the Panthers (2-3, 2-2) in an Ocean League match at Dairy Creek in San Luis Obispo.

Golfers played nine holes. Margret Heffernan of Mission Prep was the medalist. She shot a 47.

Clarissa Novela led Pioneer Valley with a career best 48. Teammates following were Julia Vargas (55), Carmen Guerrero (career best 56), Breanna Villalobos (62) and Grace Ruiz (66).  

Boys water polo

Santa Barbara 15, Righetti 12

The Dons beat the Warriors (5-4, 2-0) in a cross-section game at Santa Barbara.

Eric Hidalgo scored four Righetti goals. Nathan Boyer made 11 saves for the Warriors.


Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.