Going for the kill: ARC volleyball looks to bounce back from a first round exit at the state championships

Jessica Maynard and Jessica Maynard

As the team looks up in the rankings, the American River College volleyball team can’t help but like the position it’s currently in.

As of Sept. 17 the women are ranked No. 10 in the state with a 7-3 overall record. The team jumped up three spots after beating the No. 6 ranked team in the state Fresno City College two times in a row.

Coming into this season the women had big holes to fill. The team lost Katie Christener who lead the Big 8 Conference in kills and kills per set, their libero Josie Casillas and Bailey Humes who led the conference in assists.

“Surprisingly enough our starters are all sophomores,” women’s volleyball Head Coach Ashlie Hain said. “We had a large team last year so that helps and even though we’ve transferred seven or eight, we still have a core group of five or six.”

With the addition of new players the Beavers are returning middle blocker Nicole Hareland who went from .75 blocks per set to 1.39, outside hitter Lauren Kirschke who is arguably the most improved player from last season statistically, setter Jessica Condit who leads the team in assists with 8.7 per game and Nicole Solak who has moved to right side hitter.

“Last season I was a freshman and I looked up to all the sophomores on the team,” Solak said. “Now I have freshman looking up to me. I think my leadership has improved and I’ve become more accountable to my team.”

On a team that lacked intensity at times last season, Coach Hain believes this group’s intensity will not be a question this year. She also believes that once the women start playing together and figure out their starting line up the team will start clicking and rally off a few wins.

“This group is funny,” Hain said. “There are a lot of strong personalities and if they put their mind to something…like we knocked off Fresno twice and Fresno is a good team. When they put their mind to something they can do it and when they lose track they lose to a team they shouldn’t lose to.”

The women kick off divisional play on the road Oct. 2 versus San Joaquin Delta College, followed by a game  versus Sacramento City College on Oct. 4, and the ladies divisional home opener against Santa Rosa Junior College on Oct. 9. All games are at 6:30 p.m.