Half Moon Bay hoping to build off last year’s volleyball success 

click to enlarge Half Moon Bay’s Shelly Holland (1) is one of several returners from last year’s team that reached the CCS playoffs for the first time in four seasons. (Joseph Schell/Special to The Examiner) - HALF MOON BAY’S SHELLY HOLLAND (1) IS ONE OF SEVERAL RETURNERS FROM LAST YEAR’S TEAM THAT REACHED THE CCS PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR SEASONS. (JOSEPH SCHELL/SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER)
  • Half Moon Bay’s Shelly Holland (1) is one of several returners from last year’s team that reached the CCS playoffs for the first time in four seasons. (Joseph Schell/Special to The Examiner)
  • Half Moon Bay’s Shelly Holland (1) is one of several returners from last year’s team that reached the CCS playoffs for the first time in four seasons. (Joseph Schell/Special to The Examiner)

The Half Moon Bay girls’ volleyball team broke through years of mediocrity last season, reaching the Central Coast Section playoffs for the first time in four years, and now seeks to repeat its success.

“The team fell right in the middle of the pack,” second-year Half Moon Bay coach Chelsea Muth said of the past few seasons. “They know now what it takes to be a champion, the work it takes. [We have] a great deal of momentum going into this year,” Muth said.

Half Moon Bay, which went undefeated in the Ocean Division last year, has moved up into the PAL Bay and Muth believes her team can contend, but realizes there are areas for improvement.

“We’ll be able to be a contender,” Muth said. “We’ll be seen as an underdog coming up from the Ocean. We can surprise a lot of people.”

The Cougars reached the CCS Division IV playoffs as a No. 12 seed before losing in the first round to Menlo in four sets.

Muth said her team has been focusing on controlling the pace of the game.

“The game pace is going to be a lot quicker [in the Bay],” Muth said.

To help with this, Muth and her team scheduled three tournaments loaded with possible CCS opponents during the 2011 season.

Half Moon Bay participated in the Notre Dame Rosemary Kingston Tournament last weekend, in the Watsonville Tournament this weekend and will play in the Irvington Tournament on Sept. 24.

“It’s good for us to see these teams,” Muth said. “To see what’s the caliber of play.”

They went winless in the Notre Dame Tournament, but Muth saw improvements in her team.

“They did really, really well,” Muth said.

But as the Cougars get closer to league play, which begins on Sept. 20 at Aragon, Muth said her team needs to work more on its offense, highlighted by involvement of multiple players on offense.

The Cougars return three key players, including Ocean Co-Player of the Year Danielle Peranich.

Shelly Holland and Miranda Reinche also return from last year’s CCS team.

Two players moving up from junior varsity that should make an immediate impact are outside hitter Rachel Staal and defensive specialist Maggie Dye.

Muth admitted there will be a transition after a number of solid players graduated last year.

Setter Haley Nazar and middle blocker Courtney Callan were among the graduates.

To contend in the Bay, Half Moon Bay will have to contend with defending champion Burlingame, Menlo-Atherton and Carlmont.

All three won at least 20 matches last season and reached the CCS playoffs, with Menlo-Atherton reaching the CCS Division I finals.

Prior to the 2010 season, Half Moon Bay last reached the CCS playoffs in 2006 and has not reached consecutive postseasons since the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

The Cougars have not won a CCS match since 1998.

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Zack Farmer

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