By Dave Loveton, sports information
Monday, Feb. 6, 2012
Vaqueros are talented and deep
Young squad sets sights on WSC title
While there’s no question about the youth and athleticism on the SBCC men’s volleyball
team, the depth of the Vaqueros’ bench could turn out to be a key factor in the 2012
“Our depth is unbelievable,” said Jordon Dyer, a sophomore setter who transferred from Golden West College after an outstanding prep career at Dos Pueblos High. “We have two teams that could beat a lot of teams. That really helps us have good practices.
“Our goals are to stay together and play together. Another one is winning state. I feel like we have a really good shot.”
The Vaqueros (2-1) make their home debut on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Dyer’s former team, Golden West. Ty Dudley-Mann, a 6-1 outside hitter, came to the Vaqueros after redshirting at Golden West last year.
Michael Naki is the only returner from last year’s team that reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008 under the direction of new coach Armen Zakarian. The Vaqueros went 9-9 overall and took second in the Western State Conference at 6-4.
Zakarian started two different lineups in Saturday’s doubleheader at Santa Monica and the Vaqueros beat Grossmont 3-0 and San Diego Mesa 3-1.
Cody Kreitzer, Matt Winslow and Collin Cohen have led the Vaqueros in hitting in their first few matches. Kreitzer, who transferred from San Diego City College, is a 6-foot-2 opposite, Winslow is a 6-5 outside hitter and Cohen is the tallest player at 6-6.
Dakota Smith is one of the best passers and servers. Derek Martinez, the starting libero, is a transfer from Orange Coast who played with Dyer at Dos Pueblos. The middle hitters are 6-4 Johnny Brand of Bishop Diego, 6-5 Chris Utroske and 6-5 Aquiles Montoya.
“This is a unique team,” said Dyer, who‘s played with the USA National Beach team and went to the World Championships in Turkey three years ago. “It’s the first time I’ve played with so many talented individuals who bring so much to the table. Everyone rises to the occasion and raises the bar. We’ve progressed a lot since the first day of practice.“
Zakarian thinks the Vaqueros, comprised of 12 freshmen and four sophomores, can improve on last year‘s edition.
“Skill-wise, we have more talent than last year,” said the second-year coach. “I think we’ll have a better record and I think we’re a playoff team. Our league will be tough as always but there‘s no reason we can‘t win it.”
The schedule is a little strange. The Vaqueros will play four of their first five WSC matches on the road and four of their last five at home. They open WSC play on March 2 at Santa Monica.
“We’ve got a great group of outside hitters, they’re really unbelievable,” said Zakarian. “This is shaping up to be one of the funnest groups of kids I’ve ever coached. We have a chance to do some great things.
“And we have guys who are dedicated to making themselves better, both on the court and in the classroom.”
By Dave Loveton, sports information
Friday, Jan. 28, 2011
Zakarian leads new beginning
Young coach expects big things from middle attack
When asked if the 2011 SBCC men’s volleyball team would be better than last year,
returning setter Kaahukane Leite-Ah Yo didn’t hesitate.
“For sure,“ said the 6-3 sophomore from Kamehamea High in Hilo, Hawaii. “Guaranteed.“
Three starters return from last year’s 8-9 edition that went 3-7 and finished fifth out of six teams in the Western State Conference.
“We have guys with more experience,” said Leite-Ah Yo. “And the returners from last year have made great improvements. We have a lot of skill and that makes our practices better.”
The Vaqueros open on Saturday at the 12-team Long Beach Invitational.
The other returning starters are 6-5 Justin Hertlein and 6-7 Cody Zoesch of Dos Pueblos High.
Armen Zakarian is the new head coach and at 26, he’s the youngest coach of SBCC’s 17 intercollegiate teams.
“We’re going to be strong through the middle,” said Zakarian, a former SBCC and UCSB star. “When we can control the ball, we’ll be deadly up the middle.”
Zakarian said the return of Kyle Benskin, a 6-5 sophomore from
Dos Pueblos, will also be a key to success. Benskin played for the Vaqueros a few years ago.
“He’s going to clog the middle and be a big force blocking,” Zakarian noted. “He’ll definitely be one of our captains.”
Bernardino Garcia and Morgan Youngs, a pair of sophomores from Carpinteria High, are also expected to challenge for starting spots along with a trio of 6-3 freshman -- Logan Weis, Brock Skriloff and Justin Carroll. Michael Naki also figures to see action at outside hitter.
Jacob Jenkins, a freshman from Kamehameha High, will be the libero. Jenkins’ father was a setter on the U.S. National team and Zakarian played with his brother, Nate Jenkins, at SBCC in 2004-05.
The Vaqueros first home match is Feb. 8 against Orange Coast.
“We need to serve/receive tough,” said Zakarian. “That’s always the way. You can’t run your middle attack if you can’t pass the ball. … We want to control the ball the way we want to and run our offense.”
Zakarian describes his coaching style as “hands on” and says he’s always energetic and extroverted. He was an assistant coach for Kathy Gregory with the UCSB women’s team in 2007.
The new coach realizes the WSC is a tough conference. Long Beach went 10-0 last year, then lost to WSC runner-up Moorpark in the state championship.
“If you set goals too high and don’t reach them, then you’re setting yourself up for failure,” Zakarian noted. “We know what’s realistic and what’s not. I know this league is stacked.
“One of our biggest goals is to see how we can survive and finish in the top three (to make the playoffs). Once you’re in the playoffs, you never know.”