Improved defense, size to play key roles in 2019 volleyball season

Juliet Garcia (left) is just one of three returners for head coach Pete Rasmussen in 2019.
Juliet Garcia (left) is just one of three returners for head coach Pete Rasmussen in 2019.

The 2019 Porterville College women's volleyball season officially gets underway on Friday, Aug. 30 when the Pirates face host Monterey Peninsula College at 1 p.m. in the opening match of the MPC Classic. Porterville follows that with a 3 p.m. match against San Jose City College later that day before hitting the road to College of Alameda for the Cougar Classic on Saturday.

Head coach Pete Rasmussen returns for his third year with the Pirates after a tough 2018 season. With just three returners from that squad, Rasmussen will head out on the season-opening trip eager to see where his 2019 team stands.

"We have a large group of freshmen coming in," said Rasmussen. "But most are experience club players."

Rasmussen is excited to add some size to his squad and will look to a much-improved defense to help carry the team this season.

"We have better size this year adding a 6'1" middle and several 5'10 or better hitters." he stated. "Having said that, I think our strength is going to be in our defense. They all work extremely hard on defense and read exceptionally well. We do have a couple of big hitters that are going to get the workload of set on offense."

One of those heavy hitters is freshman Emily Kissick, a former East Sequoia League most valuable player out of Strathmore High School. Said Rasmussen: "I expect her to lead the team offensively and be one of our top passers.  She might also be used as a setter in certain situations as well."

Other players to watch include Madison Doty from Monache, Jordan Castaneda out of Farmersville, and Delano grad Karissa Jones.

"Madison is a versatile player that we might use in several positions," Rasmussen said. "She is one of our strongest middle blockers but can also set and play outside. Jordan is quick and has nice hands to deliver the ball.  Karissa is a talented defensive player.  She is quick and has great instinct and ball control."

Rasmussen says he will also look to top returning sophomore Juliet Garcia as one who could earn a starting position.

The goals for the season are the same as in years past, win a conference championship and make a run into the playoffs. Rasmussen knows this will be tough like every year and looks to team as Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias as top contenders in the Central Valley Conference this season.

"Fresno and COS both have large talented squads, but I think every team in our conference will be strong this year," he said. "We are going to have to play near-perfect volleyball during league play."

The Pirates will play their first nine contest on the road before finally hitting their home court on Sep. 16. PC will host former CVC foe Cerro Coso College in a 4 p.m. non-conference match.

Conference play begins on Sep. 20 with a 6 p.m. match at COS before the Pirates host Columbia College on Sep. 25 in their first home CVC contest at 5 p.m.