Early tournaments spur teams confidence

November 18, 2008 — by Neyha Bhat and Nathan Kim

This year the girls’ volleyball team is looking forward to a strong season with a new coach guiding their young, talented roster. Brad Frederickson, who has been coaching the boys’ varsity volleyball team since 2005, will replace Lori Gragnola as coach.

Gragnola coached the girls’ JV team for 11 years and was an assistant coach for the varsity team for nine years before being promoted to head coach in 2006. She left Saratoga High after the 2007 season and will continue coaching the Monta Vista boys’ varsity team in the spring.

Frederickson has an impressive amount of coaching experience under his belt. He started coaching the Campbell High team in 1978, while playing his first year of college volleyball. In 2005, he was offered a chance to lead the boys’ volleyball team, and two years later, he led them to the CCS semifinals. Consequently, he has high expectations for the girls.

“I’m excited about the [consistent] level of talent on the team,” said Frederickson. “It’s different from other schools that only have one or two key players.”

Frederickson believes he has a lot of material to work with, since many of the players on the team have extensive backgrounds in club volleyball.

Three captains, senior Kiersten Dolbec and juniors Chelsea Sabella and Nicole Gragnola lead the team. Frederickson noted that Dolbec is probably one of the best players in the league and her aggressive play at the net will make her “a force to be reckoned with,” he said. He also pointed out that sophomore setter and hitter Hanna Nielson has phenomenal athletic talent and “will only get better.”

Frederickson hopes to break any bad habits with technique that the players have developed and bring their game to a new level.

“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard,” said Frederickson.

On Sept. 18, Monta Vista played an impressing defensive game, but was no match for Saratoga’s superior offense. Saratoga won in three quick sets: 25-16, 25-18 and 25-11. Saratoga was able to come back from early net and serving troubles to rout the Matadors.

On Sept. 11, Sobrato turned out to be an easy match-up. Saratoga won in four sets: 25-13, 25-7, 20-25 and 25-14. The front row played an exciting game, with a combined 42 kills from Nielson, Gragnola and Dolbec. Sophomore Erika Ho came in to finish off the last game with a stunning seven consecutive aces.

Two days earlier, Saratoga played its first league game against Westmont. Saratoga dispatched its opponent again in four sets: 25-20, 19-25, 25-14 and 25-16.

“We came together as a team really well, especially after the weekend tournament,” said Nielson. “Emily Baba did a really good job passing, but we need other people to step up for us too.”

Saratoga started its tournament record strong by winning the red division at the Milpitas Spikefest on Sept. 6. After meeting at Saratoga Bagels at 6:30 a.m., the team headed to Independence High School for their first tournament of the season. They lost their first game, missing the chance to qualify for the gold, silver or bronze ranks but rebounded well with four consecutive wins.
On Sept. 20, Saratoga attended the Westmont Invitational Tournament. This week, they had a loaded schedule with games on Tuesday at Gunn, Wednesday against Valley Christian and Thursday against Homestead. Scores could not be published due to publication deadlines.

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