The Taft College volleyball team is looking forward to a great year. The 2019 Cougar squad returns six players from last season and welcomes seven newcomers.
Guarding the middle will be Keala Skeele and Madison Barcelona, both from Honolulu, Hawaii. The libero position will be filled by returner Christy Hopfe and freshman Janae Niutupuivaha, both also natives of Hawaii. Setting duties will be split between freshman Sarah Bowen of Bakersfield and Elisia Brown from Victorville. Rounding out the lineup at the outside hitter position are returners Kaycha Maramba from Hawaii and Daniela Flores of Bakersfield. The outside hitters are also welcoming freshmen Lauren Hu'ulei Pau-Desantos and Jasmine Chipen- Ii, both from Hawaii.
The team is very diverse, with every player brining a distinct dynamic. "The team is committed to being independent and competitive this year," said head coach Kanoe Bandy. "This is a fun team to work with but they will have to work very hard to overcome a height disadvantage."
The beginning of this season will see a few changes, most notably Cerro Coso College of Ridgecrest is no longer a member of the Central Valley Conference. According to Bandy, Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias should be the teams to beat in the CVC.
"The anticipation is that College of the Sequoias is going to be tough," said Bandy. "They had a lot of freshmen last year."
The Cougars will open the season on Tuesday, August 27 against College of San Mateo. They will return home on August 30 to play DeAnza College and Delta College, both previous playoff teams.
This will be a challenging year for the Cougars, but they are up for the challenge.