Jeff Holloway, the Rio Mesa High girls’ volleyball head coach, wants to surge to the top behind his “most talented team” in six seasons guiding the program.
Rio Mesa has finished third in the PVL standings behind Camarillo and Oxnard for the past four seasons.
For the past three years, the Spartans have gone 6-4 in league and exited in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’m tired of always being 6-4 and losing to Camarillo and Oxnard every year,” Holloway said.
“I think it’s the first year we can change that. This is the most talented team I’ve had all the way around.”
In a promising sign, Rio Mesa beat the Scorpions in a summer league match.
“Doesn’t mean anything,” Holloway said, “but it’s a confidence booster.”
Camarillo and Oxnard have maintained a stranglehold on the PVL for more than a decade, but that could always change.
“I feel like Camarillo and Oxnard have lost a lot of good players and we’ve been building up,” said Rio Mesa senior libero Joy Lester.
Rio Mesa returns an experienced, deep squad that excels at passing and attacking.
Seniors Mackenzie Kytlica, an outside hitter, and opposite hitter Raegan Nizdil are co-captains.
Kytlica and Nizdil have started at varsity since their sophomore years.
The co-captains said the Spartans have had talent in the past but were doomed by shaky confidence against top competition.
“We’d go into games against Camarillo and Oxnard knowing we can’t win,” Nizdil said.
The Spartans faced tough competition at the San Luis Obispo Invitational earlier this month. Rio Mesa finished 3-3 during the two-day tournament.
Nizdil and Kytlica, however, missed the tourney to take the ACT test.
“Can’t argue with a girl trying to go to college,” Holloway said. “Can’t be too upset.”
Rio Mesa lost its first two matches of the season against Buena and La Reina. The Spartans captured the first set against La Reina, ranked No. 5 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2-AA coaches’ poll.
Seniors Kacie Marczuk and Gabrielle Casey rotate at setters.
“Camarillo and Oxnard don’t have the setters they’ve had the last couple years, so that’s going to make a big difference,” Holloway said.
“We have two good setters.”
RMHS is young at middle blocker, but junior Hannah Swangler and sophomore Cece Lucas can get the job done, Holloway said.
Shyleya Mora, a sophomore, provides depth at middle blocker.
Senior opposite hitter Angie Solloa and junior outside hitter Katelynn Womack are big contributors for the Spartans.
Junior defensive specialists Meagan Larson and Roxanne Sabo round out the roster.
With a mix of veterans and rookies, Rio Mesa will grapple with Camarillo and Oxnard for Pacific View supremacy.