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2014 GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW Valley Christian’s Nua one step closer to her dream job with first head coaching gig

By Loren Kopff

VALLEY CHRISTIAN LADY CRUSADERS
20-8 overall last season, 4-4 in the Olympic League, third place, lost to Palm Springs in the Division II-A second round playoffs
78-50 overall last five seasons
Head coach: Melody Nua (first season)
Last time missed the playoffs: 2009
Key losses: Amanda Chamberlain, Maggie Streelman, SR Alexyss Nelson, SR Madeline Peters, L Emily Morrow
Valley Christian is coming off of its second straight 20+ victory season and is welcoming in first-year head coach Melanie Nua, who brings quite a resume of volleyball experience with her. Nua had spent the past two seasons as the junior varsity coach at Los Alamitos while also helping with the varsity squad. She played at Lakewood High School before taking her talents to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She also coached at Bishop Gorman High School and is heavily involved with the Seal Beach Volleyball Club. Ultimately, Nua would like to coach a college team.
In fact, she heard about the V.C. opening from directors at Seal Beach Volleyball Club, interviewed for the job and was offered the job as she got home on same day as her interview in mid April.
“It’s awesome; I love it,” Nua said. “I love being able to put everything that I’ve learned from [Los Alamitos and Bishop Gorman] and able to put it together and do something on my own with it. And, being able to do something that I love is always awesome at a good school.”
While the Lady Crusaders lose a big chunk of their offense in Amanda Chamberlain and Maggie Streelman, they return seven solid players, led by senior opposite hitter Karly Dantuma, whom Nua says will be a go-to hitter. Senior outside hitter Sam Yang also returns and according to Nua is an overall consistent player and passer who will pull everyone together.
Senior outside hitter Caroline Hefley, senior setter and defensive specialist Cariann Palmer, junior middle blocker Madi Huizar, junior defensive specialist Allie Sutherland and sophomore libero and defensive specialist Kaylee Westra also return.
“It’s been a blessing,” Nua said. “They’ve all helped me through these past couple of months, just going back and seeing what they’ve done and trying to modify it a little bit and making it my own as well as adding a lot of my own things.”
Probably the one new player that could make an immediate impact and one that opponents should take notice in will be freshman outside hitter Madi Holmes, who along with Dantuma, could form a very explosive one-two punch. Junior Chloe Winter is slated to be the starting setter and Nua says that she is an ‘extremely hard worker and will never say no to you’. Other newcomers will be senior outside hitter Brianna Westra, junior middle blockers Katelyn Albani and Kerryn Harrington and junior defensive specialist and libero Emily McLurg.
V.C. hasn’t won an Olympic League crown since 2001 when it went 8-0. Since then the Lady Crusaders have gone 6-2 and 4-4 four times and 5-3 and 3-5 twice. The Olympic League has been so tightly contested that there have been second place teams finishing at 4-4. V.C. finished in third place last season at 4-4 but the season before, it had the same league mark and finished in a tie for second.
“I know Heritage Christian just from family that lives up in that area,” Nua said. “I know Whittier Christian; I’ve seen them play a few times and they’re pretty good. Valley Christian, I know just from playing at Lakewood, usually has a good showing. I’ve heard a little bit about Village Christian and Maranatha.”
Of the eight losses by the Lady Crusaders last season, half of them came by way of three-set sweeps, two of them to league champion Whittier Christian. In fact, V.C. has lost 10 straight matches to the Heralds, the longest such streak amongst league opponents.
“I’ve asked the girls many times what was holding them back last year from doing great things,” Nua said. “They had some great athletes on the team. They would say the same [generic] things like, ‘we just couldn’t finish towards the end’. What I wanted to do this year was bring in some things that they hadn’t done, like the 7:00 a.m. workouts. I want to push them a little bit more than they have in the previous years. What I’ve been hearing is they have come close but not quite close [enough].”