Volleyball player digs all-state honor

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Lauren Orozco was left hanging as her parents squabbled. All Sonia and Robert had to do was decide who would break the news to their daughter. Orozco was running out of patience quickly. The news turned out to be well worth the wait for Orozco. The Rocklin High School senior had been selected by MaxPreps to the Division II all-state volleyball team. Twelve girls were honored. Her parents had printed the list of players from and then bickered about who should give it to their daughter. Once Orozco got her hands on it, she eventually found her name. “My name was down near the bottom,” Orozco said. “After I saw it, it was like ‘Wow!’ I was shocked.” Her parents put aside their bickering long enough to share in their daughter’s joy. “I couldn’t believe they were going back and forth about giving it to me,” she said with a chuckle. Orozco was lauded for playing a major role in the Thunder’s amazing season. Rocklin won a Sac-Joaquin Section championship and finished 42-4, including 10-0 in the Sierra Foothill League. All that success did not surprise to Orozco. In 2009, Rocklin reached the section Division II title match only to lose to St. Francis of Sacramento. The loss turned into motivation for the seniors. “We wanted to get back to that game,” Orozco said. “It didn’t matter if it was St. Francis or whoever.” St. Francis climbed to Division I in 2010, so an obstacle was cleared from Rocklin’s path. Coach Dave Muscarella kept his players from looking too far ahead by setting goals along the way. The first was to win the SFL. Once the Thunder clinched the title, Muscarella challenged his team to go unbeaten in the league. Victory No. 10 took five games against Nevada Union on Nov. 2. “We knew league was going to be hard,” Orozco said, “but we wanted to go undefeated.” Two playoff victories sent Rocklin to the section finals Nov. 18 at UC Davis. The Thunder was not to be denied in its 44th match, defeating El Camino in four games to bring home the banner. Orozco’s play as the libero – or defensive specialist – may have been overlooked by the casual volleyball fan. Her teammates certainly took notice. So did Muscarella and the other SFL coaches. “It’s probably the most important position,” Muscarella said In the all-SFL voting, Orozco was named the league’s most valuable player. If the league presented an award for the best team leader, Orozco would have probably added that to her trophy case. One item is missing for Orozco, however. She has yet to receive a scholarship offer. One of her teammates, senior hitter Olivia Lane, has accepted an offer to play at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Orozco realizes that universities often recruit hitters and setters before looking for liberos, especially one who is 5-foot-4. That does not make playing the waiting game any easier. Her patience is being tested again. “It’s frustrating,” she said. Muscarella has no doubt that an offer will be coming Orozco’s way any day now. “With her personality type, she wants to get things done now,” he said. “She’ll be playing somewhere.”