South Tahoe volleyball aims for smooth transition under new head coach Racca
STHS VOLLEYBALL 2016 SCHEDULE
Aug. 25 at Wooster W 3-0
Aug. 26-27 Yerington Invitational 6-1
*Sept. 7 vs. Fallon L 3-1
*Sept. 9 at Elko, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 10 at Spring Creek, noon
Sept. 14 at Incline, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 16 at Lowry, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 21 at Dayton, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 23 at Sparks, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 28 vs. Truckee, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 3 vs. Fernley, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 7 vs. Elko, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 8 vs. Spring Creek, noon
*Oct. 12 at Fallon, 5 p.m.
*Oct. 14 vs. Lowry, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 19 vs. Dayton, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 21 vs. Sparks, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 25 at Truckee, 6 p.m.
*Oct. 27 at Fernley, 4 p.m.
Home games in bold
*3A Northern League
The South Tahoe volleyball team has a new coach on the sidelines for the 2016 season. For Vikings first-year head coach Kelly Racca, the plan is to make the transition as seamless as possible — and continue to build the program.
“The girls are familiar with me because I was around last season, so it’s not totally foreign to them,” Racca said. “It’s been good — they’ve embraced me and for the most part bought in.”
Racca takes over for Dan McLaughlin, who led South Tahoe to a 58-60 record in six seasons — including the 2012 Div. I-A State championship. She was an assistant on the long-time South Shore coach’s staff last season, when the Vikings finished 10-9 and made the playoffs.
“It was important that someone come in and build on what Dan started,” Racca said. “He started a good foundation and we see all the work he put into it — I didn’t want to see it go away.”
Though this is Racca’s first high school head coaching job, she has coached club at Silver State Volleyball Club and in California’s Central Valley. She has a full-time job in addition to serving as Vikings’ head coach, and her oldest daughter Caitlyn is a freshman that plays volleyball at STHS.
“The most important thing to me is getting these girls in the program younger,” Racca said. “I really want to capture these girls young and get them excited about volleyball.
“This is my way to make an impact in this community.”
South Tahoe returns eight players from last year’s team, including senior captains Zoe Mosedale and Maya Brosch. Mosedale has been the Vikings’ setter since her sophomore year, and will run South Tahoe’s offense for a third straight season.
“Zoe’s confidence has totally skyrocketed this season,” Racca said. “She’s stepping in and running the offense, she’s very comfortable and she’s not beating herself up — I love to see her come out of her shell and really run the team.”
Brosch is an athletic outside hitter more known her exploits on the track, including multiple state championships in hurdles during the past two years. Her and junior Novel Moses are South Tahoe’s biggest threats on the outside, and both are looking to turn their talent into kills this season.
“Maya is improving with each practice — she’s just athletic,” Racca said. “She can jump above everybody in the gym, and as soon as we can harness that connection she’s going to get there.”
South Tahoe’s senior group includes Ashley Bricker — the team’s starting libero after serving as a backup setter last season — along with Brynna Hembree, Isabel Leon and Sarah Smith. Junior McKenna Brewer also played varsity for the Vikings in 2015, and the team’s tallest player at 5 feet, 11 inches tall is a force in the middle.
“We don’t want to be a one-trick pony where everything is fed to the outside,” Racca said. “I want my middles taking as many swings as the [outside hitters].”
Newcomers to the varsity level include junior Josefina Ackerson Zunza along with sophomores Sofia Hedqvist, Layne Hembree, Hailey Naccarato and Sydney McCarthy. Racca said she expects Hedqvist and Layne Hembree to make an impact right away for South Tahoe.
The Vikings opened the season by sweeping Wooster (Reno, Nev.) on Thursday, Aug. 25, before winning the Silver bracket championship at the Yerington Invitational held Aug. 26-27. South Tahoe made its home debut Wednesday, Sept. 7, and kicked off 3A Northern League play with a four-set loss to Fallon at the Blue Gym.
“They weren’t connecting,” Racca said of the loss, which dropped South Tahoe to 6-3 on the season. “I think the home atmosphere got to them — they were in their heads a lot.”
Mosedale tallied 29 assists, 11 digs and four kills in the loss, and Bricker had a team-high 28 digs and two aces despite dislocating her elbow in warmups. Moses had seven kills and 10 digs, Brewer hit .261 and finished with eight kills, and Brynna Hembree added six digs.
“We’re not there as a program yet, but we will be,” Racca said. “As long as I keep setting the expectation and the level high in practice, eventually we’re going to consistently get there.”
South Tahoe returns to action Friday, Sept. 9, against Elko, and plays at Spring Creek on Saturday, Sept. 10. The Vikings play six straight road games before hosting Truckee on Wednesday, Sept. 28.