There’s a new vibe this year when it comes to the Scotts Valley High Girls Volleyball team. Maybe it has something to do with a new coaching staff. Maybe it’s the senior leadership of captains Natalia Locatelli, Megan and Mary Claire Lonhart (yes, they’re twins) who want to finish their Falcon careers “with a bang.” Whatever the case, if the pre-season results are any indication of what’s to come, the Falcons are poised to contend with the top teams in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League.
Case in point; Scotts Valley took second place in the 16 team Watsonville tournament last weekend, going 4-2, with both losses coming against powerful King City, the tourney champion. To finish up their non-league schedule, the Falcons hosted Los Gatos last Monday evening, forcing the taller and more experienced Wildcats to 4 tough games before eventually losing (23-25, 25-19, 25-20, and 25-23).
Locatelli, a dynamic three year varsity player, epitomizes the grit, determination and positive vibe of this year’s team. “We’ve come out strong and we’re connecting and really bonding which has had a huge impact”, said Locatelli who noted that she and the Lonharts have played volleyball together for nine years.
In his first year coaching the girl’s team, Shane Yablonka, a Southern California transplant who played four years of volleyball at University of California Santa Cruz, is excited about the prospects of this year’s squad. He said, “Now that we’ve played a few games, my expectations are higher than when we first began. It’s nice to see the team willing to work hard and strive for that next level.” Reiterating the challenging pre-season schedule, Yablonka said, “we’ve had some tough games [Los Gatos, Lynbrook, Branham] that I think no doubt will prepare us for what’s to come in league.”
Asked which teams will be the top contenders in league play, both Yablonka and assistant coach Dave Parr concurred that Aptos is the team to beat, with Soquel mentioned as well. The players tend to agree. Mary Claire Lonhart, a powerful outside hitter said, “We’re going to have some real competition with Aptos but we’re excited and ready to face them.” The Falcons split the two matches played against the Mariners last season.
Megan Lonhart, the ‘do-everything’ senior setter sees good things ahead for the Falcons in her swan song season with her sister and Locatelli. “I think we’re a really strong team, we just need to make sure we connect with the mental focus. We’re going to be a really competitive team if we’re able to work together and go for the overall team goal and be a cohesive unit.”
With a new coach, solid senior leadership along with a supporting cast of talented juniors; let the good vibes continue for the Lady Falcons!
Scotts Valley’s next game is at Mount Madonna on Tuesday, Sept. 22 and next home game is against rival San Lorenzo Valley on Thursday, Sept.24.