volleyball team at the start of the 2000 campaign.
With the graduation of five key players off a team which reached the
Southern California regional semifinals, Spartan Coach Kevin Boyke was
supposed to have his hands full.
But one thing that the writers forgot to include when sizing up the
best teams in the area: As soon as one class graduates at La Canada,
another good one is waiting in the wings.
And this year is no different. Despite having to replace a wealth of
talent from a 24-4 squad, the Spartans find themselves in the same
position as they did last season, in the opening round of the Division
III state playoffs.
La Canada (20-3) travels to Oakhurst Yosemite High (18-8), the Central
Section-champion, at 7 tonight attempting to win its second state playoff
match in as many seasons. "When people asked me at the beginning of the
season, I told them we'd be as competitive as last season," Boyke said.
"This team may not have the power of last year's group, but they are very
balanced and very smart."
So how does Boyke replace the league's co-most valuable players, an
all-league first-teamer and two all-league honorable mention selections?
Enter Megan Blatchley, Kalee Heydorff, Lauren Wanski and Vanessa
The quartet of seniors, along with four-year starting setter Tracy
Neumeier and juniors Erin Coscarelli and Jennifer Geisbauer, have been
the core rotation for La Canada during its run through league and the
And an impressive run it has been.
Since a five-game loss to Flintridge Sacred Heart in their
season-opener, the Spartans have lost just one best-of-five match -- in
the Southern Section semifinals to Harvard-Westlake -- and only twice in
A major accomplishment considering that Young, at 6 feet, is the
tallest player on the team.
Blatchley and Heydorff, at 5-7 and 5-6, have played bigger than their
size, carrying the load at outside hitters.
"We've really jelled as a team," said Heydorff, who is second on the
team to Young with 249 kills.
"We lost a lot of girls and it was kind of intimidating knowing we