Last year when 2016 fall workouts began, the Valley Christian Academy girls volleyball program consisted of four players.

"We thought that we might not be able to carry a team," VCA coach Chris Sallee said before a recent workout.

"We got a lot of late additions, and the numbers came up."

This year, "We had 18 out at the start, and that's a big difference," said Sallee.

"We were able to get more players familiar with our system sooner this year."  The Lions are carrying 10 players on their varsity roster.

At press time, the Lions were looking for their first win in the young season. They were 0-2 after two losses at the Providence Tournament in Santa Barbara.

Sallee did see some encouraging signs in a scrimmage against Orcutt Academy. "It went pretty well overall," he said. "The JV did better against their JV than our varsity did against their varsity, but overall I was pretty pleased.

"We're really trying to work on our serving and trying to get the newbies to understand the offensive and defensive rotation." 

Returnees from the the Lions' 2016 squad include senior defensive specialist Ciera Sallee, who is the coach's daughter and a team captain, junior setter Kyra Tullos, junior left side hitter Mayley DeBernardi, sophomore left side hitter-defender Malia Bullock and sophomore defender Heather Knudson.

VCA went 4-10-2 last year, including 4-6 in the Coast Valley League.  The Lions did beat eventual CVL runner-up and playoff representative Coastal Christian.

"That was a big highlight," Ciera Sallee said with a smile.

Coast Union won the CVL championship last year.

The Lions did not qualify for the post-season last year. Sallee thinks his team "has a chance to be competitive," in the CVL this year.

At press time, Sallee said the Lions would run a 6-2 offense, with two setters. As the returning setter, Tullos figures to help anchor it.

"I got familiar with the system last year, and I'm comfortable with it," she said.

DeBernardi is a second-year varsity player. She also plays for the varsity basketball team.

"Of the two, basketball is probably my favorite one," she said. "Playing volleyball gets me in shape for basketball."

At press time, she said, "I think (VCA's volleyball team) has made a lot of progress."

Indeed, progress, Tullos said, would be the big objective for the Lions this year.

"We're trying to be improving, trying to help the new players' skills improve, trying to bring everybody's skills up," she said. "That's our new goal." 

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Sports Reporter