New Porterville College women's volleyball head coach Pete Rasmussen doesn't know what to expect.
Despite his 15 years of previous experience as head coach at rival College of the Sequoias, Rasmussen has had just a little over two months with his Pirates squad since taking over the program in late June. But Rasmussen is eager to return to the sidelines and is happy to be back at the court.
"I am unbelievably excited to be back coaching at this level," said Rasmussen. "After 15 or so years at COS, I was hitting a wall for various reasons. But, in my few short months here, I have found the young coach in me that is always excited about walking in to the gym. I think it has been a combination of the People at PC that have been so helpful and friendly, the coaching staff that are great to work with, and the team. They have a great attitude and make it fun."
With practically no time to recruit, he will enter the 2017 season with many question marks. But Rasmussen is confident PC will be ready to hit the court for its season-opener on Friday (Aug. 25) when the Pirates travel to San Diego Mesa College for 12 p.m. match.
"In the short time I have had with them, the players have shown a lot of desire and willingness to learn," said Rasmussen. "We are a little inexperienced at this level of competitiveness. The players don't always understand the difference between high school and junior college play. It is faster and requires a lot more focus and technique, and we are improving in those areas every day."
Rasmussen will need to lean heavily on just three returners. Sophomores Brooke Reilly (Taft HS) and Ashlynn Miller (Porterville HS) are back from last year's squad while Brooklynne Beavers (Monache HS) returns after last seeing action for the Pirates in 2015. Reilly ranked third on the team with 86 kills last year while Miller contributed 26 aces and 128 digs. As a freshman, Beavers totaled 68 kills.
Top freshmen newcomers to the Pirates' program include setter Emerald Harris (Houston, TX), Jasmine Torres (Delano HS) and Madysen Clower (Porterville HS) in the middle, and defensive specialist Rylee Jones (Monache HS).
The Pirates will have just a short time to get their feet wet before embarking on an always tough Central Valley Conference schedule. Porterville will play five matches over the opening two weeks of the season before opening CVC play at home on Sept. 13 vs. West Hills College Coalinga.
"I'm sure defending state champ Fresno City will be tough again," said Rasmussen when looking at his conference foes. "COS is going to be solid as well as Reedley and Taft. But it has been a few years since I have been in the league and I'm not sure what we will be facing."
2017 will be a learning experience for not only a young Pirates squad, but for the veteran head coach as well.