Women's Volleyball Preview
Spikers Ready to Win #300 for Coach Nystrom
SAN LUIS OBISPO (September 28, 2016)— Few coaches in community college are a bigger part of their program than Cuesta Volleyball Coach Roche Nystrom (298-230/24 th ). Nystrom began her career at Cuesta College as an athlete and helped lead the Cougars to the institution’s first CCCAA State (DII) Title in 1979 in only the program’s fourth year of existence. Nystrom went on to play college ball at Biola, but was back on the bench at the end of her playing career to help Coach Hugh Gerhardt lead the Cougars to the Cuesta College’s only CCCAA State DI titles (in any sport) with back-to-back crowns in 1985 and 1986. In 1993, Nystrom took over the helm as the program’s fourth head coach and is closing in on her 300 th victory, although along with her time a player and an assistant she has been with the Cougars to over 500 of the programs 618 victories. This season Nystrom brings back the core of her 2015 squad and added height and skill around them with a star-studded freshman class.
The Cougars opened the season with a 7-4 mark and will begin Western State Conference (WSC)-North Division play in October.
Outside/Opposite Hitters- The Cougars are taking their two top returners and moving them to the outside. 2015 All-Western State Conference Middle Blocker Maren Cracknell (Atascadero HS) will hit opposite for the Cougars this year and fellow Middle Blocker Hallie Robertson (Folsom) will move to the outside. Cracknell was second on the team with 154 kills in 2015 and posted a team-best .290 hitting percentage. She also led the team with 74 total blocks, which ranks 11 th all time. Robertson, who spent her first years of college rowing crew for Oklahoma, will take on a bigger role during her sophomore campaign. She came back ready to play after knocking off some rust last year and will stay for all the rotations and provide leadership on the floor. Robertson’s team-leading 79 kills in the first eleven matches already surpass her 2015 total. All State (Nevada) selection Anais Fay (Truckee HS) and fellow freshman Hannah Katches (Paso Robles HS) will join the Cougars’ veterans on the outside. Fay is powerful hitter and when she gets on a roll the Cougars will rack up the points. She had 477 kills her last two years of high school. Katches is one of three six-footers on the Cougars’ roster and is coming off a senior season, where she crushed 129 kills for the Bearcats.
Middle Blockers- The Cougars lost some experience, but gained some height in the middle of the floor. Freshmen Kaylie Griffin (Atascadero HS) and Morgan Lawson (Templeton HS) both check in at over six-feet tall and join, relatively, undersized Kelly Cole (Delano) up front. Griffin was a devastating player for the Greyhounds with 183 blocks over her career, including 100 her senior season. She also collected over 500 kills as a prep, so the Cougars will lean on her on offense and defense. Lawson has battled some injuries early after sitting out the 2015 campaign. She was two-time all-PAC 8 First Teamer and the Cougars are looking forward to getting her on the floor. Cole has already proven her self as a solid middle for the Cougars. She is “only” 5’8”, but leads the Cougars in blocks (47) and averaged over 50 a season at Garces Memorial. She can also play through all the rotations and her hard serve can keep the Cougars on offense for long stretches of points. She had 34 aces her senior season.
Setters- Freshmen Sage Kelley (SLO HS) and Mariah Hall (Yuba City) will share the setting duties for the Cougars. Kelley is back on the floor after taking a year off, but played with Cracknell and Griffin at Atascadero before transferring to SLO High, so she is already familiar with the players. Kelley also has strong Cuesta roots, because her sister Bailey Kelley was a two-time all-conference water polo player for the Cougars. Hall earned all-Tri-County League Honors and was the Team MVP for River Valley High. The duo is slated to split the position and will allow the Cougars to make easy transitions with their hitters and defensive specialists.
Defensive Specialist- Freshman Becky Boersma (Othello HS, WSA) was an all-League First Team Outside Hitter, but will make the full time transition to the back row this fall as the Cougars’ Libero. The Cougars have also transitioned their third sophomore, Rhylan Lakes (Irvine) to the back row. Lakes adds athleticism on the perimeter and a strong serve. Her 53 career aces rank 5 th all time at Cuesta. Freshman Taylor Stevens (Truckee HS) joined current teammate Anais Fay to form a powerful brace of all-League hitters for Truckee High, but, while she will all move into a hitting role, Stevens will see time in the back row. She joined Lawson on the early season injured reserve, but shall see more time as the season progresses.