Taft prepared for conference play with tourney in San Diego

Taft College, off to a 6-2 start, will christen the Central Valley Conference volleyball season Wednesday when the Cougars host Columbia College of Sonora for a 5 p.m. match in the Al Baldock Cougar Sports Center.

The Cougars tuned up for the conference lid-lifter by taking the consolation title in last Saturday’s one-day tournament at San Diego City College.

“We played O.K. but not great,” head coach Kanoe Bandy said.

The tournament format was best 2-of-3 rather than 3-of-5 so the results and statistics don’t count although several Cougars posted some impressive numbers.

TC defeated Cuyamaca 25-5, 25-9, lost to Pima (AZ) 27-25, 22-25, 7-15, lost to Chaffey 17-25, 24-26 and defeated Cuyamaca again 25-9 and Rio Hondo 25-12 in the single set consolation finals.

“We should have beaten Pima,” Bandy said.  “We were up by five points in the second set and let it slip away.”

Sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Mapusaga made the all-tournament team.

“She was phenomenal,” her coach said.  “Her passing was outstanding.  Against Chaffey she had 16 perfect passes out of 21.  That’s really huge.  Our goal is to pass 50 percent on serve-receive but she hit 75 percent.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a player do that.”

Mapusaga also had 31 kills on the day and 46 defensive digs.  Nobody else came close.  Taft High product Tara Kelley had 29 digs and Chelsea Wong 20.

“Tara played right side defense and did a great job,” Bandy said.  “She passed so many balls.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Lani Kaiwi had a good day from the serving line.

“She was 65-for-65, scored 53 points and had 15 aces.  That was phenomenal.”

While the Cougars are the early pace-setter in non-conference play, Columbia also is off to a good start.  The Claimjumpers are 6-3.
Defending champion Fresno also is 6-3, Merced, Porterville and Reedley are all 4-4, Sequoias is at 1-5 and West Hills 0-5.

After hosting Columbia the Cougars will travel to Santa Rosa on Friday to play Shasta and host SRJC in a pair of non-conference matches before returning to CVC action for the remainder of the season.