Volleyball: Falcons rebuild the middle September 16, 2009 — by Aanchal Mohan and Amanda Yi The girls' volleyball team is relying on teamwork rather than team size for success this year. "We only have nine people [but] we’re all really close already because most of us have played together for two, some of us three years," said senior co-captain and side hitter Chelsea Sabella. "I think that’s going to be one of our strong points, [but] it’s really going to come down to working with our middles.” Because of the loss of graduated seniors, the team had to make changes and bring up underclassmen to fill its holes, especially in the middle. The girls’ volleyball team is relying on teamwork rather than team size for success this year. “We only have nine people [but] we’re all really close already because most of us have played together for two, some of us three years,” said senior co-captain and side hitter Chelsea Sabella. “I think that’s going to be one of our strong points, [but] it’s really going to come down to working with our middles.” Because of the loss of graduated seniors, the team had to make changes and bring up underclassmen to fill its holes, especially in the middle. “Last year, we had really good middles like [Samantha Lovelady and Kiersten Dolbec],” said senior setter Alysia Patel. “We had to bring up three middles: sophomores Chloe Knight and Talia Cisco, and junior Megan Brading, all of whom are all pretty new at playing middle. It’s a challenge, but they’re getting a lot better.” Coach Brad Fredrickson has been working with the new middles separately during practice so that they can be ready for the season. “Varsity is the complete opposite of junior varsity,” said Cisco. “I’m going to have to work very hard so that I can play the position well.” As the team works to strengthen up its middle, the defense and offense remain rock solid. “Defense is a big strength for us with Emily Baba as our libero,” said Patel. ” Our offense is really good with [senior] Nicole [Gragnola] and [Sabella] as our outside hitters and [junior] Hannah Nielson as our big right side.” Co-captain Gragnola is looking forward to a good positive season. “[Our] goal this year is to be able to play as a team,” said Gragnola. “Volleyball is a very team oriented game and we need to make sure to support each other and stay positive, especially when someone is down.” The team is looking forward to beating last year’s record of 1-11 when their only win was over Gunn High School. The Falcons will be playing in the “A League” De Anza Divison this year. “We have a lot of really good teams in our league like Los Gatos and Palo Alto,” said Sabella.”All of the teams are going to be hard to beat.” The girls kicked off their regular season with the Spikefest Tournament on Sept. 4 where they played Archbishop Mitty, the six-time Northern California champions. The Falcons played a tough match, losing a close game 23-25, but ending up losing to the Monarchs in 2 out of 3 games. Saratoga ended up winning the bronze division (third place) after winning three out of five matches that day. “During the tournament, we beat Palo Alto, who is in our league, so that was really exciting,” said Patel. “I didn’t expect us to do so well, but our middles are improving a lot and I have high expectations for the rest of the season.” The team played Homestead on Sept. 24, King’s Academy on Sept. 22, St. Francis on Sept. 21 and Gunderson on Sept 16, but due to printing deadlines the results could not be printed. The girls play at Los Gatos Sept. 29, and Palo Alto at home Oct. 1.