W Rossi

Mallori Rossi

For the first time in over 30 years, the Taft College women's volleyball team had a new leader at courtside. The Mallori Rossi era officially began on Friday and with little time to recruit, the Cougars' limited roster might have a tough time this season. Rossi's squad of nine suffered a 3-0 loss (25-13, 25-15, 25-22) at College of San Mateo in both teams' 2021 opener on Friday.

It's been just over four months since the Taft volleyball team was in action during a COVID spring 2021 season. Rossi will have to rely heavily on a trio of returners from that team, outside hitter Jada Dias, setter Kayla Iwata, and middle blocker Kaimana Botelho-Patoc.

Dias, who earned state player of the week honors from the California Community College Women's Volleyball Coaches Association in the spring, helped lead the Cougars in Friday's defeat. She had a team-high eight digs to go along with seven kills. Iwata totaled a Taft-high 14 assists and seven digs while Botelho-Patoc led TC with eight kills and added seven digs.

Rossi was named Taft head coach to replace Kanoe Bandy earlier this month after leading the Cal State Stanislaus women's volleyball program the last six years. Prior to Cal State Stanislaus, Rossi served as an assistant coach at Fresno State.

A native of Bakersfield, Rossi played collegiately at the University of Colorado and at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. At UOP, she twice earned first-team All-Big West Conference honors at the outside hitter position. After college, she went on to play professionally in the Greece Premier Volleyball League.

Rossi and the Taft Cougars will look to earn their first win when they return to action on Wednesday (Sep. 1) with a 5 p.m. match

This article originally appeared on Taft Midway Driller: TC volleyball drops first game of Mallori Rossi era