by Matt Henry
Taft Midway Driller
There is something to be said about having a balanced team. One could say that describes the Taft College volleyball team as they get ready to open their season Tuesday when they compete in a pair of matches in Sacramento.
"It's going to be fun," said Taft College coach Kanoe Bandy. All totaled, Bandy has 12 players on the team this year with six freshman and six sophomores. Out of those players, two of them have played for the Taft High volleyball team in Christina Warner and Angela Faa'gau.
"It's a nice balance," she said. "The nice thing is you have the experience." Warner joining the Cougar Volleyball team marks the second time a Warner has played for Bandy. Warner's mother also played for Bandy.
Despite the experience, there are several things that the cougars have to improve on. "We got to be able to pass the ball," said Bandy. "We're also working on a wide variety of servers.'
Bandy has a reason regarding the servers and that is to keep their opponents off guard. The Cougars will also be adding something to the serving this coming season.
"This year we're going to be doing more of the aggressive type serving," she said. Taft College on the other hand does not have a lot of size on their team with Faa'gau being the tallest player on the team at 6'0".
One thing Bandy says the team will have is heavy hitters.
When the Central Valley Conference rolls around, there will be a couple of changes. One of the changes is Cerro Coso of Ridgecrest joining the conference. As a result, the cougars had to drop their annual trip to the San Diego Tournament. "It changed the way we have scheduled," said Bandy.
Now as a result of Cerro Coso being in the conference, the teams will package their opponents at the same time like when Merced comes to Taft they will play the Cougars then travel to Cerro Coso. The Cougars will do the same when they travel up north.
In terms of who stands out for Bandy in conference play it is Fresno City and College of the Sequoias even though they have a new coach.
"The anticipation is Cos is going to be tough," said Bandy. "They had a lot of freshman last year."
Bandy says the Cougars, who went 15-13 overall last year while finishing 9-5 and a tie for third in conference play, have to do several things to make playoffs this year. "We're going to have to play tough," she said. "You got to play to win." It will be a challenge at the start of the season when they face Sacramento City College Tuesday before Foothill College two hours later but having half of the team being sophomores will help. According to Bandy, the two finished in the top eight.
Who they play will not be the only challenge for the Cougars. At the start of the season, Taft College has only three home matches through nearly the first month of season. Two of those matches will be taking place on the same day when the Cougars host San Joaquin Delta College and De Anza College on Friday, Sept. 2. The other home match in the beginning of the season is Sept. 16 when the Cougars host Columbia College.
"They already knew the caliber and that's helpful," Bandy said of the sophomores. "At least they're prepared for the competition."