EASTVALE — A youth movement is happening within the Roosevelt girls volleyball program this season.
Three freshman and two sophomores were in the starting lineup Wednesday afternoon, when the Mustangs hosted Murrieta Valley in the season opener for both teams. Those youngsters held their own, as Roosevelt started off the new campaign on a positive note with a 27-25, 29-27, 25-10 sweep of the Nighthawks.
Roosevelt won a share of the Big VIII League title and reached the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs last year. But several key players were lost to graduation, and junior Mia Goettsche (2.7 kills per set) decided to hang up her volleyball sneakers to focus solely on her soccer career going forward. Senior setter Jadyn Ellecion also was unavailable for the season opener after suffering an injury in practice.
That allowed several new faces the opportunity to shine Wednesday. Freshman outside hitter Ryah Brock and sophomore outside hitter Rylee Dale registered 14 kills apiece to lead the offense for the Mustangs. And the middle blocking duo of freshman Jordan Rall and sophomore Chsiom Ude combined for nine total blocks.
And then there was Mya Capistrano. The freshman is a libero by trade, but she stepped into the role of setter with Ellecion sidelined. Capistrano guided the offense and had three block assists, one ace and several digs.
“It was a little nerve-racking, but I felt good in the moment out there with my teammates,” Capistrano said.
Roosevelt usually runs a two-setter (6-2) offense but needed to make a quick audible for its opener.
“We ran a 5-1 offense with her (Capistrano) for the first time at practice Tuesday,” Roosevelt coach Patti Zarate said. “Our young ones really showed what they can do… The future look pretty bright.”
Roosevelt did have a veteran presence on the floor in senior libero Rylee Sengdara, who is committed to Cal State Northridge. Sengdara made the difficult digs look routine and also served up five aces in the final set.
“I tell everyone that she’s my ride-or-die girl,” Zarate said of Sengdara. “I have really enjoyed coaching her.”
Roosevelt took advantage of a slew of Murrieta Valley errors to grab an 11-4 lead in that first set. Murrieta Valley made a comeback, spearheaded by junior outside hitters Ryleigh Short and Miley Thunstrom, and the Nighthawks eventually leveled the score at 19. Roosevelt answered back with a 5-1 run, but the Mustangs squandered five set points before Brock and Dale finally ended the supsense with back-to-back kills.
Murrieta Valley held leads of 8-4 and 15-11 during the second set, but Roosevelt rallied and caught the Nighthawks at 16. The lead changed hands multiple times down the stretch, but Roosevelt again was the team who found a narrow path to victory. Like the opening frame, Dale ended the second set with a kill.
“We work hard at practice to win those close games, and we just brought that to the game,” Sengdara said.
Sengdara stepped to the service line with Murrieta Valley leading 3-2 in the third set. When her run was over, Roosevelt was up 9-4. Five of the seven points scored by the Mustangs in that run came on Sengdara aces. Junior opposite Celeste Paez, who was a part-time starter last year, had three block assists in the final set.
Short recorded 13 kills to lead Murrieta Valley, and Thunstrom added nine kills for the Nighthawks.