Beset by injuries early, Owls hope to fly right as playoffs approach

Courtesy of Foothill College
Foothill middle blocker Olivia Stubblefield, right, goes for the kill as setter Alyssa Topete keeps her eyes on the ball.

Set back by a spate of injuries in September, the Foothill College women’s volleyball team is trying to recover in time to make a playoff push.

At nearly full strength as they embark on the second half of their Coast Conference South Division slate this week, the Owls will need to get hot in a hurry to overcome their slow start.

“We have to do well in the second half of the conference season to have a chance,” said coach Katy Ripp, whose team is 3-3 in the division and 9-12 overall. “We’ll need some significant wins to look better as an at-large team.”

That would require knocking off teams ahead of Foothill in the division: Gavilan (6-0), Ohlone (5-1)and De Anza (4-2). Gavilan (22-1 overall) is ranked No. 2 in the state; Ohlone (18-5) and De Anza (11-8)are unranked but received “Best of the Rest” consideration in last week’s coaches poll.

Injuries have hindered the Owls from being their best – they were down to nine players for a two-week stretch in September – but Ripp is proud of the perseverance they’ve displayed.

“It was tough going for a while, and we’re still nursing some,” the coach said of knee, elbow, ankle and foot injuries that have sidelined players this season. “But these kids have battled through all that and are getting better every day. They work hard, they’re committed and have good attitudes.”

Assistant coach Tiffany Anderson used the word “grit” in her description of the team, comprising five sophomores and six freshmen.

Sophomore outside hitters Meleina O’Rourke (a graduate of San Mateo High) and Fiona Green (Palo Alto) lead the Owls in kills. Ripp said O’Rourke “is doing well” and that Green “has done a nice job switching back and forth from right side to outside hitter.”

Foothill’s 15th-year coach also praised freshman Hannah Rosen (Sequoia). The outside hitter posted a team-high 15 kills in Foothill’s sweep of San Jose City College Oct. 17.

Freshmen Olivia Stubblefield (Sequoia) and Sydney Do (Milpitas) – the starting middle blockers – “are progressing nicely,” Ripp said. Sophomore libero Iris Calderon (Yerba Buena) tops the team in digs. Freshman Alyssa Topete (Moreau Catholic) and sophomore Jaelen Torres (Terra Nova) share the setting duties.

“We’ve had to change the lineup quite a few times (due to injuries) and they’ve had to play multiple positions,” Ripp said of her squad. “Now that we have almost everyone back, we’re playing better – and we still have room to improve.”

The Owls are scheduled to visit Ohlone 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Schools »

Read More

Sports »

Read More

People »

Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

Browse and buy photos