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SAL volleyball preview
Hawks welcome new coach; Coyotes hungry to best last year
denair high volleyball
Denair volleyball’s McKenna Potter, Kirsten Fletcher and Cheyenne Souza pictured with Adrianna Snyder (below). - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

Both the Denair and Delhi high volleyball teams are preparing for a brand new season in the Southern Athletic League and each squad is seeking a better season than the last.

Delhi welcomes first-year head coach Jesus Oliveras, making it the fifth coach in five years for the Hawks, while Christy North is back for her second season with the Denair Coyotes and there is some buzz whirling around for the upcoming season.

delhi volleyball team
Delhi volleyball’s Mariana Lopez, Emily Salazar and Susana Torres are expected to be a few of the standouts for the Hawks this year. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

“I am not overconfident, but I certainly feel we can be spoilers since in the beginning of the season when people don’t expect much from us when they play us,” said North. “But there is less stress because the girls are not down on themselves and we are going to have fun. We have an opportunity to make some good plays and good changes.”

“We are just positively progressing, just overall I would say,” said Oliveras. “We started doing summer conditioning, which is important because this season started a lot earlier than last, but getting them in sooner was important.”

Oliveras was the JV coach last season and has been with the district for four years.

There is a new optimism floating around Denair and Delhi for volleyball after a few tumultuous years.

Since 2004, Denair volleyball has only seen two winning seasons — 2005 (7-5) and 2008 (15-10-1). Since then, Denair has been on a steady downward trend. This has included two winless seasons in the last three years, with just two victories combined in a four-year frame from 2014-2017.

“I will say that coming into Denair, the girls had not won anything in two years before, so it was a difficult first half of the season because even with talent we had, the girls didn’t know how to win,” said North of last year’s season. “So, what shifted was their attitude in the second half of the season.”

The Coyotes return just four, but expect big things from all of them that includes Cheyenne Souza, Adrianna Snyder, Kirsten Fletcher and McKenna Potter.

 “We have a lot more focus and understanding of what the team can do and I think our JV is a lot stronger. We have a ton of freshmen, but freshmen with experience. This year we are building upon that and now we have a goal to win at least twice as many, our goal is to get to .500,” said North.

Delhi has seen a similar fate, not having a winning season since 2004. During that timeframe, their best record at 10-13 came in 2006.

The Hawks have seen some recent progress, winning 11 games over the last three seasons. They won four league games in 2015.

Last season they went 3-10 in the SAL, including two losses in league that went five sets.

“I am getting them used to each other because chemistry to us, when it comes to last season, was an issue and we can fix that, it is easy,” said Oliveras. “Get them together, get them playing with one another and they will get used to it and we can fix this.”

Oliveras and the Hawks will look to veterans Emily Salazar and Susana Torres, along with sophomore standout Mariana Lopez who made the varsity roster as a freshman last season.

In total they return six.

“Because we are returning our core, we don’t have to shift too many things around, now we are just building off last season,” said Oliveras. “We are doing the stuff we didn’t do last season and so far, they’ve been progressing well. The outlook is brighter than it’s been.”

Delhi will next host Turlock Christian at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Denair opens up the season at home against Venture Academy at 6 p.m. Thursday.