Like a mother asked to name her favorite child, Foothill College volleyball coach Katy Ripp can’t choose just one when it comes to the leading candidate for team MVP. She contends Foothill’s success isn’t due to one player – or even two.
“Our starting six have been playing well as a team,” said Ripp, whose Owls are perched atop the Coast Conference North Division. “Not one person stands out because it is such a team effort.”
Last year outside hitter Brittany Anderson stood out. The sophomore was voted conference MVP after leading Foothill to a division title and the second round of the regional playoffs.
Although the Owls won’t be able to match last season’s 24-4 record, they are playing just fine without Anderson (now at UC Berkeley). Foothill is 15-9 overall and, more importantly, 8-0 in the division. Only the top two teams in the North are guaranteed playoff berths.
“We are doing well,” said Ripp, who listed De Anza and City College of San Francisco as the Owls’ biggest challengers for first place.
Foothill has found success with a 6-2 offense featuring setters Nicole Radish and Angie Larsen. Radish, a freshman from Homestead High, leads the Owls in assists. Sophomore Larsen is the team’s lone out-of-state player, hailing from Orem, Utah.
St. Francis High graduate Caitlin Dinneen tops the team in blocks. The sophomore plays alongside Jessica Gapoff, a freshman from Redwood High, at middle blocker.
Freshman outside hitter Noel Kwalick, a Santa Clara High grad, is the Owls’ kill leader. She notched 25 kills in Friday’s sweep of San Francisco. Sophomore Hailey Austin also sees action at outside hitter and paced Foothill with 13 kills in Foothill’s straight-game win over San Jose City Oct. 27. Austin and freshman Alyssa Chandler, who starts at right-side hitter, are from Woodside High.
Sophomore Lauren Reid, another St. Francis product, is the Owls’ libero.
While there may not be a star among the team’s 13 players, Ripp said the Owls have several strengths.
“Serve receive and serving – basically ball control,” she said, “and playing as a team and working together to get the job done.”
Foothill’s accomplishments include beating ranked teams Butte and Feather River in tournaments
and taking a vaunted Fresno City team to five games before losing the non-conference match. Such performances have helped the Owls climb to 22nd in the state rankings and ninth in Northern California.
Foothill is scheduled to visit De Anza 6:30 p.m. today.