Reedley High gets winning start for volleyball season

Pirates sweep Sierra High, defends TCC Sequoia champs look to contend in retooled league and make a playoff run with a strong nucleus

Reedley High players celebrate a point during the second set of a season-opening sweep of Sierra High in the volleyball opener on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at RHS gym. The Pirates are looking to contend for the Tri-County Conference Kings division this fall. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published August 16, 2023  • 
9:30 am

REEDLEY – The Reedley High volleyball team is looking to replicate its success from 2022 in a slightly revamped Tri County Conference this season, and the mission got off to a good start Tuesday night.

Combining a strong service game with a more aggressive balanced hitting attack, the Pirates methodically overpowered Sierra High by scores of 25-23, 25-16 and 25-15 on opening night at RHS gym. Reedley, which made an unbeaten 8-0 run through the TCC Sierra division last fall, is grouped with four new opponents in the TCC Kings format this fall.

Coach Ken Tatami liked his squad’s first night intensity and execution against Sierra, which like Reedley reached the Central Section Division III playoffs last season.

“I was very pleased with the way we transitioned play. We’re trying to change our focus into more attack-oriented, and we looked a lot better trying to implement it,” he said. “(We) graduated a lot of impact players from last year. As you can tell by the roster, I have a lot of young kids.”

Taking on the task of replacing standouts, including four-year varsity starter Lillian Martinez, is a nucleus of three solid veterans: senior libero-defensive specialist Ashlee Chavez, senior outside hitter Olivia Nourian and senior middle blocker Melissa Meza.

“There’s not too many (teams) in the Valley that have a person in the back row that can hit like that,” Tatami said of Chavez, who collected 20 digs and delivered four ace serves while serving as the quarterback on the floor. “She’s in her third year on the varsity, and she knows everything about what our offense is.”

Tatmia said Nourian delivered an “outstanding attacking” performance with nine kills and 10 digs, and said that Meza (six kills, five aces) is doing a very good job replacing four-year Martinez, who now is playing at Reedley College. Meza turned in a long string of solid serves during a 9-0 run in the second set that gave the Pirates a 12-4 lead.

Tatmia also praised sophomore setter Bethany Andres, who dished off 26 assists and collected 12 digs.

“You can’t ask much more from a sophomore to be able to step in and run an offense like that,” he said. 

The coach said he’s looking forward to getting through the preseason and getting some valuable tournament experience before TCC play arrives. The Pirates will have a road match at Dinuba at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, but first host Golden West on Thursday, Aug. 17.

Joining the Pirates in the Tri County-Kings Division are Exeter, Kingsburg, Central Valley Christian and Sierra Pacific.

Jon Earnest