Kofa sweeps San Luis for second time this season
Seven years ago, Kofa's Brittany Garcia and San Luis' Melissa Hernandez dueled it out on the volleyball and basketball court.
On Monday, Garcia and Hernandez coached against each other for the second time this season — and once again, it was Garcia's Kings who came out on top.
Behind a strong match from junior outside hitter Jasmine Ortiz, Kofa swept the Sidewinders 25-17, 25-13, 25-15 at home.
“They're an excellent team. They have great hitters and smart hitters,” Hernandez said. “My girls are not necessarily outmatched, because the talent is there. It's something we deal with at San Luis, and that's confidence. And that's definitely something I'm working on right now.”
Ortiz had a team-high 18 kills for Kofa, which improved to 9-2 on the season. Senior middle blocker Jacky Fuentes had seven kills and four aces while sophomore setter Sally Gastelo had 25 assists and 14 digs for the Kings.
“(Ortiz) was having that confidence and that's what I was telling her,” Garcia said. “She can't be timid and have 50-percent swings. She's been really confident lately and that's what I need.”
Senior Rebecca Valenzuela and junior Vanessa Murrieta each had four kills for the Sidewinders, who drop to 1-6 on the year.
Garcia and Hernandez, both standouts at their current schools during their playing days, already faced off earlier in the season. The Kings swept the Sidewinders on Aug. 30. The two coaches seem to share a mutual respect for each other, dating back to when they were players.
Hernandez was the 2006 The Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Athlete of the Year and was a star basketball and volleyball player at San Luis. Garcia also starred in basketball and was a two-time The Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Volleyball Player of the Year.
“(Hernandez) was a great athlete. She was probably one of their top volleyball players, I remember that,” Garcia said.
“I remember playing Brittany. It was high school and it was really competitive. And it wasn't just Brittany, it was just we wanted to win,” said Hernandez, who took over the San Luis coaching job this season.
Since becoming the Kofa coach in 2010, Garcia led the Kings to two straight state tournament appearances and, judging from the way her Kings are playing, has a chance to make it a third time this year.
“Now that we're both coaching, I can definitely say that I look up to her and what she's done with the program so far. And hopefully that's something I'll accomplish here,” Hernandez said of Garcia.
By having a pair of former star players return to become the coaches of their alma maters is something that can help build a program, according to Garcia.
“It shows how much we love our schools and how much we want to give back from that and that's great.”
After being swept at St. Mary's on Sept. 13, the Kings have been on a roll. They easily won the Flowing Wells tournament Saturday and appeared to be clicking in their win over San Luis.
“I feel like they're meshing together better now than at the beginning of the season. I think our problem was we weren't really communicating how we like things on the court,” Garcia said.
This season's Arizona Interscholastic Association Power Points will be revealed for the first time today. Garcia feels that no matter how well her team has played in the past week, they'll have to plenty of room to improve if they want to advance in the state playoffs.
“I think we can still be better than we are now and that's how I always feel,” Garcia said. “I don't want my girls to be content with how we're playing.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson