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Denny helps young El Camino team repeat

Published: Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 8C
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 - 1:41 pm

It doesn't matter if Cassidy Denny slams the ball over the net for a kill or dinks it between two defenders. The senior outside hitter for El Camino High School gets the job done.

She is the emotional and vocal leader for the young Eagles squad that lost six seniors from last season's Sac-Joaquin Section title team and repeated this year, beating Gregori of Modesto 25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18 in the Division II final Thursday night at the Pavilion at UC Davis.

"She is the everything player," El Camino coach Marty Soyama said. "She plays great defense, she hits well, and she led her team tonight. She reminded everyone what the game plan was. She really led the way. I am so proud of her."

Said Denny: "I feel this is my team. I realized this is my year. I knew we were going to go as far as I wanted us to go, and I want to go to state."

Soyama said the first D-III section title in 2011 was great but feels this one is a little sweeter.

"Last year, we were expected to win," Soyama said. "No one expected us to win this year. So it is a testament to our kids, and they really came together."

Led by Denny and sophomores Devin Herenda and Mikaela Nocetti, the Eagles led 1-0 before Gregori came back in the second set. But with Denny, whom Nocetti says the younger players are "really going to miss," the Eagles won the final two sets with more than just talent.

"We have a lot of heart," Denny said. "We struggled, but we pulled it through because we really believe in each other."

Division I – Behind seniors Gabriella Palmeri, Allie Wegener and Loni Kruen, St. Francis won its second straight title, 25-23, 25-14, 25-10 over Granite Bay.

It is the 12th section title for St. Francis.

"They are all sweet," Troubadours coach Alynn Wright said, "since it is always a different group of girls that have different goals and priorities. For them to achieve those goals is always rewarding."

Division III – In her second year as Oakmont's coach, Shelby Weinberger took the Vikings to the top of the section with a comeback 3-2 victory over Vista del Lago.

Down 2-0, the Vikings looked tentative and nervous against the Eagles, who won the past two D-IV section titles before moving up this season.

"I think a lot of people were nervous and weren't ready," Oakmont sophomore setter Ally Wubben said. "But this was just another game, and we needed to play our game no matter what."

Vista del Lago took the first set convincingly, and Weinberger said her team was not the same one that went 10-0 in the Capital Valley League en route to a No. 1 seed for sections.

"I honestly was thinking we looked nervous as can be," Weinberger said. "I didn't know if we had it to come back, but once we got settled down and got into a rhythm, we said, 'We can do this, and we deserve to be here.' "

After the Eagles took the second set, dissatisfaction set in for Weinberger.

"I thought, what a disappointment to come all the way here and not be to prove we deserve to be here because what I saw from my team wasn't my team. It wasn't the team we have built," she said.

But with a heavy dose of senior Katie Carte, the Vikings came back. They took the third set 27-25 and finished with a 25-18 fourth and a 15-4 fifth. The title is Oakmont's first in girls volleyball.

Division IV – Bear River won its third section title with a 25-22, 20-25, 25-19, 25-23 win over Ripon Christian.

Division V – Woodland Christian beat Le Grand 3-0 to win the school's second section title.

Division VI – No. 3 seed Turlock Christian beat No. 8 Valley Christian in three sets for the title.

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