Modesto Junior College volleyball head coach Tiger Shelton took over a struggling program last season and boosted them from a five-win season to a shocking 21-win season that included a postseason berth.
The Pirates failed to move past the first round after losing to Gavilan College, but despite the tough loss, Shelton was more than satisfied with what his team had accomplished after the school’s volleyball team had not amounted a winning season in nearly a decade.
“The girls bought into the scheme,” said Shelton. “You care more about the kids than the game and they feed off that. Once they figure it out and realize you respect what they do, it goes very smooth and we had great talent and worked hard in the gym to motivate them beyond their comfort zone.”
Shelton is welcomed after 35 successful years at the high school, community college and club level. He coached the Ripon Christian Knights to five section titles for volleyball.
“I have been all over and have been coaching since I can remember,” he said. “MJC volleyball has never been a big deal, and we’re trying to make it that by example and leading ourselves well and doing the right thing.”
Former Pitman High graduate and volleyball player, Sierrah Miller, returns after being selected as an All-Conference player, leading the team in hits along with being the state leader in kill percentage.
The 2014 team also welcomes four local volleyball stars from Pitman, Turlock and Hilmar.
“It’s great getting kids from big programs and I have respect for all them from Turlock to Hilmar and Pitman, they have all done very good,” Shelton said. “So we have a couple local girls and it’s great to finally be a part of them after watching them play club ball and are now doing some good things.”
Sofia Garcia joins the squad as a former Pride member along with her high school teammate in Miller.
Turlock High grad, Amy Chiesa, is welcomed on to the new looking Pirate squad.
After a historical 2013 year for Hilmar's volleyball team, the Pirates welcome two players from that memorable roster in Alexis Alvernaz and Taylor Marcelino. Alvernaz and Marcelino are two of the newcomers who are expected to make immediate impacts as the setters for this upcoming years' squad.
“Taylor will make an immediate impact because she is a setter and Alexis as well. They both should fill that role,” Shelton said. “They have a lot of experience in club volleyball and hopefully it rubs off because that is the quarterback position.”
Also back is Shania Williams, an outside hitter from Enochs High in Modesto who should provide some experience and stability.
The Pirates, who compete in the Big Eight conference placed third in league last season, behind Delta College and American River, but with a thinner schedule this year the team must really grind out to take advantage of every single win possible.
“We have a lighter schedule this year, preseason means nothing except to prepare them to win the big all important games,” Shelton said. “We don't care for the little stuff and I did not know that and winning early on got calls from coaches saying they did not want to play us.”
The MJC Pirate volleyball team will host the MJC Classic starting at 10 a.m. today in a round robin tournament play with about five schools present.