If it was a high-profile contest involving the Salinas High girls volleyball team, somehow Erin Reineking was going to be involved and make an impact.
If the senior setter was going to touch the ball, she was going to make sure the opposing team didn’t get comfortable.
There were the tough weekend tournament matches, the divisional contests against Notre Dame and Hollister, and then the contests in the Central Coast Section Division I tournament.
Reineking led the team in assists and helped guide Salinas through the tough contests. Teammates and coaches repeatedly mentioned her leadership qualities.
After the season, the seven coaches in the Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division voted her the Most Valuable Player of 2013.
“It was really special to be named MVP,” Reineking said.
For leading Salinas to another league championship season, Reineking has been named The Salinas Californian’s 2013 Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.
Let the good times continue
2013 was Reineking’s third season on the Salinas varsity team. She had already been a part of two consecutive undefeated league championship campaigns.
Matching those two seasons with a third consecutive undefeated league campaign was a good enough goal to start with.
Salinas rolled out to a 5-0 start in the tough Gabilan Division before facing Notre Dame. And then things changed. The team’s roster changed slightly with the addition of a couple of players.
But even with the roster moves, Reineking continued to make sure the outside hitters had opportunities to deliver crushing kills to opponents.
“It was good to have that depth,” Reineking said. “If someone had a bad game, we had other options. I mixed it around a lot. It came down to the moment (and) who should get the ball, and I knew who to give it to.”
Salinas eventually won the division championship and extended its league unbeaten streak to 41 in a row.
Reineking said the matches against Notre Dame were very fun because the players know each other. The atmosphere also helps in adding to the rivalry.
“Playing Notre Dame, we know each other so well,” she said. “It’s a really great, competitive game.”
Salinas coach Andy Mandon said Reineking’s performance against Carlmont in the quarterfinals of the CCS Division I tournament was her best of the season.
“She was moving players around and not letting the opponent get comfortable defensively,” Mandon said.
Reineking finished with 42 assists in that contest.
Salinas outside hitter Emily Cook also agreed that Reineking’s best outing was against Carlmont.
“We meshed together, the sets were great and we played really well,” Cook said. “I think that as the match went on, we got better even though we lost two sets.”
Cook and Reineking played on a volleyball club team before the season, and Cook was able to get used to how Reineking visioned the court and where she would set the ball.
It made the transition to the fall sports season a little bit easier.
Reineking praised her teammates for overcoming their early jitters to get the playoff victory.
As for the future, she’s not sure where she is heading. She plans to play more off-season volleyball with a club team. Perhaps by then, her future will be a little bit clearer.
For now, she reflects on the positive 2013 season with her Salinas High teammates.
“It was memorable being a senior on this team,” Reineking said. “It was a chance to be at the top.”
Other All-County standouts
The rest of The Salinas Californian’s All-County girls volleyball team features a bevy of players who did performed some amazing feats, with many of them leading their teams to success this past season.
Carmel High junior Kaylee Arthur played the role of setter, tallying more than 400 assists for the season as the Padres won a share of the Mission Trail Athletic League title.
It was her second consecutive year as setter and showed massive improvement.
“She is a good leader and has a good mindset,” said Carmel coach Israel Ricardez. “She played hurt the entire season.”
Ricardez said the one game that stood out to him was the matchup at King City, where Carmel rallied to win.
“She was able to tune out everything and lead a young team with sophomores and freshmen and get them to produce,” Ricardez said.
Arthur said her most memorable match was playing Santa Catalina, considered one of the Padres’ rivals.
Crissy Almorade was a team captain at Alvarez High and one of the leaders on the team that had the greatest season in school history.
Almorade averaged double digits in digs for the season, tallying more than double of the next player on the team.
“She always seemed to be at the right place at the right time,” said Alvarez coach Marc Tejeda. “When the girls saw her putting it all out there for the team, they picked up their own game as well.”
The Eagles overcame a 1-8 start to finish with an winning record overall and in league play, something the school hadn’t done in its near-two decades of action. And in the match that decided the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division championship, the Eagles rallied to force a fifth set and rallied in the fifth set to win the match, effectively getting the squad the division title.
Almorade was named the Pacific Division Most Valuable Player for helping lead the team through its historic run.
Almorade said the best moment from the season was winning the division title.
Seaside High’s Anela Visesio was a force that was rarely stopped.
Visesio averaged an unreal 20 kills, seven blocks and 18 digs per match. She produced those numbers knowing that she would face double and triple teams at the net.
Seaside coach Vince Rosa recalls at the American River Tournament where the force of her kills would knock down players on opposing teams, those players being the same build as the tall Visesio.
“Some of those girls were huge, and she knocked them down,” Rosa said. “It was tough to stop her.”
Visesio said playing Monterey was the most memorable match of the season because it is Seaside’s neighborhood rival.
Santa Catalina’s Lizzy Tardieu was the team’s setter and leader on the court, helping the squad win back-to-back MTAL championships.
Being a setter was a new experience for Tardieu, who was the team’s libero a year ago.
“She’s going to do what it takes,” said Santa Catalina coach Paul Elliott. “She was into it from the beginning. She saw it as a challenge.”
She averaged more than 20 assists and 10 digs in a match. She never had tallied a block until this year, and she said that was her favorite moment from the season.
On top of her duties in girls volleyball, she also spent time running in cross-country races, nearly reaching the state championship.
Tardieu said the two matches against Carmel were the most memorable because of the rivalry. Both teams ended up splitting the series as each went on to win a share of the league title.
King City’s Zeni Silva was also named the MTAL Most Valuable Player, leading the Mustangs to a MTAL title for the first time in six years.
The outside hitter had a team-best 219 kills for the season. She also had 298 digs, second best on the team.
King City coach Debbie Hudson said her favorite game to watch Silva play was the win against Carmel. The MVP had 19 kills and 20 digs in the three-set sweep.
“She is a real complete player for us,” Hudson said. “She’s not the tallest girl but smart enough to know how to hit around a block and get clutch shots. She was in the zone when we won in Carmel.”
Silva said her favorite match of the season was the five-set win against Santa Catalina. That win kept the Mustangs near the top of the MTAL standings for the rest of the regular season.
Salinas’ Emily Cook was the top hitter for the Cowboys this season.
Even when the Salinas roster shifted with injuries and players becoming eligible, Cook improved and became a constant force.
“She was super consistent and really helped to hold everything,” Mandon said. “She was a steady consistent passer and a steady offensive option for siding out. She provided, in the midst of a transition period, a steady force for us.”
Cook said her favorite moment from the season was defeating rival Notre Dame twice. Her most memorable match was the team’s five-set win against Carlmont in the quarterfinals of the Division I tournament.
Two Notre Dame players received All-County honors.
Both Emily Cunanan and Erin DeSerpa were named co-MVPs of their team after helping the Spirits finish in second in the tough MBL Gabilan Division. The Spirits also reached the semifinals of the CCS tournament for a second consecutive year.
DeSerpa was the team’s setter, having to distribute the ball to various outside hitters.
DeSerpa finished with 667 assists and 212 digs for the season. She also averaged eight service aces a match.
“She’s like our quarterback out there,” said Notre Dame coach Katie Harreld. “She is great to coach and is always out there working hard, and she does what you ask of her. The kids respect her and look up to her.”
DeSerpa said her favorite moments of the season came when she and her sister Erin were on the court. Her most memorable matches were the two league contests against Salinas because she’s friends with the Salinas players, and the crowd is among the largest in the area.
Cunanan, a junior Spirit, was nearly even in the kill and dig columns, getting 290 and 271, respectively. She averaged 3.2 kills a set.
“She leads by example and does so much on the court for us,” Harreld said. “She makes things look effortless, in the back row and front row. She sees the floor and the defense well and knows where to put the ball.”
Cunanan, much like DeSerpa, also found the two divisional contests against Salinas memorable because of the stakes and the atmosphere.
Coach of the Year
After a 1-8 start, the Alvarez High girls volleyball team stared at yet another season of going through the motions.
Coach Marc Tejeda kept telling the players to believe that they could turn things around.
The Eagles went 17-7 the rest of the way, including a 10-2 mark in the MBL Pacific Division. Alvarez not only won a championship in league play for the first time in school history, it finished with a winning record.
For helping the Eagles achieve many firsts, Tejeda has been named the 2013 Coach of the Year.
“I learned a lot from him, and I remembered that it wasn’t bad criticism,” Almorade said. “I learned from what he said and actually used his advice.”
Tejeda mentioned the second divisional contest against Monte Vista Christian as one of his more memorable moments from the season. The Eagles went to a fifth set and were eventually on match point loss at 14-10 before rallying with six consecutive points to stun Monte Vista Christian and get the win.
Two days later, the Eagles won their season finale to win the Pacific Division title.
“He kept repeating, ‘We will not be denied,’ and he believed in us,” Almorade said.