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Wildcats ready to make a run in Capital League

Enthusiasm is high
By: Jim Linsdau/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Beginning his second year, the head coach of the Whitney High School girls volleyball team feels his Wildcats have a solid chance of winning the Capital Volleyball League title in 2012. James Todd’s optimism runs high in spite of graduating two of his best players from last season. Although Kaylin Squyres and Julia Davena are playing elsewhere this year, Todd said the 10 players he has returning are ready to go. “All my return players have improved so much,” said Todd. “We’re going to mix it around so teams can’t just key in on one like they did last year so. It’s definitely going to be a good year, I think.” Although Squyres’ sneakers will be hard to fill, Todd said he’s pleased with what he’s seen from 6-foot incoming junior Mackenzie Berlin. Berlin will move up to the outside hitter position along with 5-9 senior Lexie May. Todd said the work his returning players have put in this summer has been remarkable. Todd also had high praise for his setter Lainey Basquez. Basquez was the club’s setter last year and returns for her senior season. “She’s going to be a stud this year,” Todd said of Basquez. “Her game has improved tremendously. That alone is going to help us a lot.” Todd said the Wildcats’ were going to be stronger on defense this year. He said the 2012 team will be faster and better with their passing. Although CVL and CIF Section champion El Camino lost six seniors to graduation, Todd feels they will continue to be difficult to beat. He said Rio Americano won’t be pushover’s either. The two clubs finished 1-2 in league last year. “They’re still going to be tough,” Todd said of the Eagles and Raiders, “but it’s more of an even playing field now. Last year, El Camino was just too tough.” Todd said another plus was the fact the Sac-Joaquin did away with the power-rating system this season. The top three teams from each league will make it into the playoffs, as well as teams finishing with an overall record over .500. The seeding will be determined by a tournament committee. Todd said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Whitney Wildcats move back into the Pioneer Valley League, a change he would embrace. Todd said he would welcome the idea of not having to go out of Placer County to compete. He also feels the depth of the PVL would better suit Whitney’s athletic programs. “I think we’re going to go back into our old league, that’s my feeling,” Todd said. “Placer, Bear River and Colfax all have good programs. It would be pretty exciting to get into that league too.” As for the Whitney girls volleyball program, Todd sees the future as being nothing but bright. He said he had around 60 seventh and eighth grade volleyball players attend his summer camp, the first he has held since taking over at Whitney. He’s also pleased with his coaching staff. “We laid the foundation last year, so now we’re just trying to build it,” said Todd. “My coaching staff is the best coaching staff I’ve ever had.” Todd said he didn’t schedule any “cupcakes” this preseason to help his Wildcats prepare for the challenges this year. He said has players have been inspired by the U.S. Womens Volleyball team at the Summer Olympics and he’s looking forward to how far that inspiration can take them this season. Whitney High Girls Volleyball 2012 Preseason Schedule Aug. 27 – Rocklin Aug. 30 – Woodcreek Sept. 5 – Bella Vista Sept. 6 – at Oakmont Sept. 8 – TBA Sept. 10 – at West Campus Sept. 11 – Woodland Sept. 13 – at Placer Sept. 17 – at Casa Roble Sept. 18 – at Center Sept. 20 – at Del Oro Sept. 27 – CAL play begins