By Loren Kopff
WHITNEY LADY WILDCATS
9-10 overall last season, 6-6 in the Academy League, fourth place, lost to La Sierra in the Division III-A first round playoffs
34-52 overall last five seasons
Head coach: Ole Nervik (8th season, 41-77)
Key losses: Alice Choi, Ashley Duru, Reyna Ta’amu, Allison Tran, Stephanie Yeh, SR Kaili Hamada, JR Lauren Oh
Before the 2013 season even began, Whitney veteran head coach Ole Nervik predicted his team would be in the middle of the Academy League. Sure enough, the Lady Wildcats finished in fourth place for the fourth consecutive season. However, for the team to remain close to the better half of the league, an almost new varsity team must have the same success as last season’s textbook season, as Nervik labeled it.
“We basically beat the teams we were supposed to and lost to the teams we were supposed to,” Nervik said. “Our league is what I would call the gold and silver league. We were playing for first place of the silver league, which is fourth place. That’s always our goal because on their worst day, St. Margaret’s can beat us without hitting the ball one time because their defense is so good. And Sage Hill is ridiculous this year; they’re so strong.”
Only senior outside hitter Lauren Dejoras and junior defensive specialist Bernice Lim return from last season, Despite the low number of returning players, Nervik says this season’s squad is probably the hardest working group of girls he has coached while at Whitney and warns outsiders of Whitney not to be surprised if the team is pretty reasonable halfway through the season.
Senior middle blocker Nicole Waldecker and senior defensive specialist Michelle Ni are the new upperclassmen this season. But, Whitney is preparing for the future with a trio of juniors-opposite hitter and defensive specialist Julia Bok, setter Jamee Centero and middle blocker Jordin Toney, and the same number of sophomores-outside hitter and setter Nicki Kim, opposite hitter and setter Nicole Lee and outside hitter and libero Allison Oh.
Co-defending league champions Sage Hill and Crean Lutheran met in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division III-A championship match with top ranked Sage Hill sweeping the second ranked Saints. Third place St. Margaret’s advanced to the quarterfinals and Nervik is predicting no change among those three teams in this season’s league standings. Although the Lady Wildcats finished three games ahead of Oxford Academy for the fourth and final automatic playoff berth, this season may be tougher with the relatively young squad.
“It’s going to be a tough season for the entire program because almost everybody, no matter which level [they are on], are brand new to that level,” Nervik said.