The varsity volleyball team from Healdsburg High currently has compiled a winning record, exclusive of tournament play, of 9-6, as the non-league part of the season winds down. And despite some setbacks, the Greyhound girls look ready to take on the North Bay Redwood League, starting this week.
Tuesday found them at home against Piner High. While the final 3-0 match score was no surprise, given that the Prospectors have yet to win a match, every set was close, and the ragged Greyhounds had to close ranks to win.
What Coach Richard Mitts said would be the “first big match” of league play comes on Thursday, Sept. 22, against Rancho Cotate in their Rohnert Park home gym. While the Cougars have a mixed pre-season record of 5-8, they have been a perennial force in North Bay Redwood, taking their 8-0 record last year to the title.
But every year, every team is different, and Mitts thinks he can play a winning hand this season.
Last week, the Greyhound girls bested Casa Grande here in Healdsburg on Sept. 15, 3-1. “That was a very exciting match—super high energy, and it was a good one to get going into the league schedule,” said Mitts.
A scheduled rematch with Montgomery on Sept. 12, however, didn’t go as well, as the Greyhound girls were shut out, 3-0. “I didn’t coach to my fullest that evening,” confessed Mitts. “I take some blame there.”
One day later, a match against Cardinal Newman also didn’t go as planned, this time because the 4.4 earthquake of Sept. 13 shook the gym. The Newman coach canceled immediately, just a point into the second set. And due to the pressures of the coming league season, that non-league match is unlikely to be rescheduled.
Earthquakes aside, the Greyhound varsity volleyball team is full of talent, from its five sophomores to its three seniors. Six juniors round out the roster.
Leading the team this fall has been senior Theresa Helfrick. “Teresa is probably our star; the team goes as she goes in all aspects of play,” said the coach.
Another senior, Emory Joy, bears some responsibility for bringing Mitts to Healdsburg this season. She’s one of several Aftershock Volleyball Club girls who helped recruit him to work with Healdsburg’s high school team this year.
“Emory is huge,” he said. “She’s a utility player, a Swiss-army knife—and she plays all positions at a high level.”
MItts also singled out junior Alissa Sommer for helping set a solid mood on the court: “She’s cool, calm and collected, and the others pick up on that.”
Said the first-year coach, “A chain is only as good as its weakest link. We are all one unit; the team is greater than the one player.”
Home volleyball matches are played in East Gym, on the HHS campus. JV starts at 5pm, varsity usually after 6pm. Next home match is against Piner on Oct. 6, followed by Rancho Cotate on Oct. 11 and St. Vincent de Paul on Oct. 13 to end the regular season.