Veteran head coach Pete Rasmussen's return to Central Valley Conference volleyball courts for Porterville College last year didn't go quite as planned.
Rasmussen, who coached for over 15 years at nearby College of the Sequoias, was named Pirates head coach last June and had just a few months to recruit and prepare for the 2017 season. It was a tough year for PC, as the Pirates compiled a 3-19 overall record and recorded just one conference victory in a 1-15 CVC schedule.
But Rasmussen is excited for the upcoming 2018 season. Despite just two players returning from last year, he is confident the Pirates will be ready for their season opener on Wednesday (Aug. 29) when PC faces Diablo Valley College and Hartnell College as part of the Hartnell Classic in Salinas.
"This year's team is small but athletic," said Rasmussen. "We are going to be a great ball control and defensive team, but we will struggle with blocking and offense."
Rasmussen will look to returning sophomores Emily Baeza (Porterville HS) and Madysen Clower (Porterville HS) to lead a young 2018 Pirate roster that features 10 freshmen. Baeza played in all 22 matches for PC and closed the year with 126 digs, 21 aces, and 74 kills. Clower also saw action in 22 matches last season and totaled 56 kills and 11 blocks.
"We're fortunate that our two returners were both starters last season," said Rasmussen. "Madysen will likely block middle for us this year while Emily will be moving to the outside."
With so much youth on this year's squad, Rasmussen says its still early to predict who will break out this season but mentioned the progress of Juliet Garcia.
"Juliet will be a big contributor blocking middle for us," he said.
Rasmussen doesn't really have any concrete team goals for 2018, but just wants his team to be ready to compete and improve on last year's record.
"We're still in the rebuilding stages, but I think we are headed in the right direction."
Porterville will play its first eight matches on the road. Following the Hartnell Classic, PC will compete at the Mendocino College Invitational on Sept. 1. The Pirates open conference play on Sept. 12 at West Hills College Lemoore and host Cerro Coso College in their home opener on Sept. 19 at 5 p.m.