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No sophomore jinx for Yuba College volleyball
49ers ready to contend for title
It's instinct now for Brenna McDonald. Yuba College's sophomore outside hitter knows exactly where her setter wants to go with the volleyball every time the two take the court together.
That kind of chemistry comes from playing the sport together for the better part of a decade.
McDonald has that with her setter, Sam Foster. Moreover, she has that with four other members of the Yuba College volleyball team.
McDonald, Foster, Allison Foster, Shaila Gidel, Katie Olson and Angela DeHaan all played volleyball at Sutter High together before joining the 49ers.
McDonald, Olson, Gidel and the Foster sisters are back from the 2011 team and DeHaan is one of three freshmen hoping to lead the Niners to the success they had a season ago.
They are off to a strong start in Bay Valley Conference play as Yuba blanked visiting Alameda 3-0 on Wednesday night in Linda with game scores of 25-8, 25-11 and 25-15.
It only took 50 minutes for the 49ers (8-1, 2-0) to handle their business. The Sam Foster-to-McDonald connection was electric as McDonald hit an impressive .591 with 14 kills.
That chemistry and camaraderie isn't limited to the players who graduated from Sutter.
Sophomore Katie Reiland (Yuba City) and Emily Toledo (East Nicolaus) round out a core group of seven sophomores, who led Yuba to a 17-6 record in 2011 with a 12-2 mark in the BVC, good enough for second place and a playoff berth.
The Niners were ousted in the first round of the postseason by No. 1-seed Cabrillo.
Yuba City graduate Alyssa Mills and River Valley product Alexis Wisniewski join DeHaan as the team's only freshmen.
"We all click together so it's really good," McDonald said. "Last year we learned that communication and teamwork is key. We all learned really fast last year."
They're hoping that experience and veteran leadership can lead to the program's first BVC banner since 2009.
Performances like Tuesday are the blueprint the Niners hope to follow.
Reiland, a 2011 All-BVC pick at middle blocker, had a big night with seven kills and a .400 hitting percentage. Gidel and Allison Foster were solid in the back row, while Olson had a strong game at outside hitter.
Sam Foster, who's taking over the setter position from former team captain and All-BVC selection Taylor Thompson, tallied 29 assists. Foster, who was an A-D All-Area selection at setter in high school, has the tough assignment of running coach Greg Chapman's 5-1 offense.
"She has a great work ethic which really helps her out," Chapman said. "Being an undersized setter, there's certain challenges you face on the court. She's been phenomenal."
Chapman's squad faces a huge test on Friday when they travel to Fairfield to face defending BVC champion Solano, which along with Napa Valley College, should contend with Yuba for the conference championship.
Chapman said he's seeing the maturity in his team from having one year of experience. From knowing how to balance college classes with practice, to on-court decision-making, he feels this group has the potential to put up another banner on the west wall of the gymnasium.
"The best part is that they're all good kids," Chapman said. "I'm very blessed."