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CHS girls volleyball looks strong despite coaching carousel

Maybe you’ve had that dream, where for some perfectly logical reason you have to go back to junior high school. Well, for the Claremont High School girls on this year’s volleyball team, it is literally coming true.

Due to construction at the main CHS gym, the team will play all of its home games this year at El Roble Intermediate School. But there were few complaints—El Roble’s gym is spacious and well lit, but most importantly it has air conditioning, which is one of the luxuries being installed back at the CHS gym.

This is a team that is used to change, as there has been a regular revolving door at the helm. Coach Daniel Reighter, who led the girls to a Palomares League title and the third round of the CIF tournament, quit as a result of a promotion at his day job. This summer, school officials had to scramble to find another coach, and in August announced that Angel Posada would take over leading the Pack.

For anyone keeping score, that is the seventh coach in seven years.

Coach Posada who is originally from San Jose, says he has been involved in volleyball either as a player or a coach since childhood. In addition to his job at Claremont, he also coaches club volleyball at Rancho Valley Volleyball Club.

“I coach volleyball from morning to night,” Coach Posada said on Tuesday. “I have been involved in volleyball starting in fourth grade as a player, and then coaching since about age 20, and I am now close to my 30s, so almost a whole decade of coaching,” he said.

Before taking the top post in Claremont, he was the JV coach at Brea Olinda High School and assisted at everything, which he admitted is what an assistant coach should be doing. But the time had come to lead his own team.

“It got to the point where I was doing so much and with the knowledge [I gained] and the timing, it was time for me to go do it myself,” he said.

Coach Posada attended Cal Poly Pomona, and freely admits to studying a number of different subjects. He is currently working toward a neuroscience degree, with an emphasis on sports psychology at Citrus College.

The chaos in the coaching staff also meant that the girls did not get to practice this summer and had to cancel some of their pre-season matches. As a result, they went straight from tryouts in July to playing actual games.

It didn’t seem to slow them down much, as they held their own against a very talented Rancho Cucamonga High School last week, losing, 3-0, but keeping within just a few points in all three sets: 25-21, 27-25 and 25-23.

“We had a few games set up and some summer stuff, but due to the fact that I came in so late, we ended up leaving the Queens of the Court Tournament out and we dropped one preseason game, so all we had was Rancho Cucamonga to start off the season,” Coach Posada said.

It was good training for this week’s opening of the Palomares League when the Pack hosted South Hills on Tuesday.

The Huskies came out strong and it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Pack, but a series of combinations, and some key kills from Juliana Gomez, Sonia Bliss and Kylie Robinson, soon had Claremont back in the game.

Claremont still trailed 18-15, but went on a seven-point scoring streak and carried the momentum all the way to a 25-21 victory in the first set. The South Hills coaching staff looked a little stunned.

The next two sets mirrored each other with two very evenly matched teams trading the lead back and forth, but with Claremont seeming to enjoy the advantage and coming out on top, 25-20 in the second and 26-24 in the third.

The most exciting play came in the final minutes of the match, when it was do or die for the Huskies, resulting in a tied score six times.

Some of the highlights: Tied at 20, Claremont’s Paris Pearson got a service ace, but then on the next point the Pack failed to return the ball after it got tangled up in the rafters. Claremont gained a two-point advantage but a kill from South Hills’ Jaclyn Meza, and a Claremont ball that went long, tied the game at 23. The Pack earned the next point but then served the ball into the net, tying the score again.

Perhaps Claremont got tired of all the drama, because they finished the Huskies off with an impressive pair of kills. The go-ahead point came from Kendra Bratzler and the game winner from Gomez.

“Rancho was a great, tough game for us. We lost, but all our scores were tight. To play against a good team like that and show that we can handle it and not get lopsided or beat up it’s big [for] our team.”

“At the end of the day, management and knowing what we can do is more important. If we win by two or ten [points], it is what it is. As long as we know how to control our emotions, take possession of the ball, instead of making silly errors, that’s where I am looking overall at our game,” he said.

Coach Posada is resigned to the team’s season at El Roble. “We are looking forward to next year and having our gym back but we are dealing with what we have and we are making it work,” he said.

The Pack is now 1-1 on the season, with their next game at home Tuesday against Chino Hills.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com