Lions have a new den at Harry’s Plaza Cafe

The Providence Hall Lions have entered CIF competition, and as a result they’ve also entered the Ranchero Room at Harry’s for the weekly Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheons.

Athletic Director Keith Luberto and two of his coaches spoke Monday in front of a crowd so big that an extra table needed to be brought in beforehand. The SBART has been around for 40 years, and 75-student Providence Hall is the first new school among local CIF competitors in 40 years.

Male Athlete of the Week: Alex Pena, Dos Pueblos Football

“We’re just thrilled to be here. I’ve been an AD in Texas and North Carolina, and there’s just nothing like this. It really is a privilege to be a part of this Round Table,” said Luberto.

The Lions are going through understandable growing pains in their first CIF go-around, but  they have found some early success.

“We’ve been in two invitationals so far. We’re running against schools with 3,000 or 4,000 kids and it doesn’t bother us. Well, it doesn’t bother me because I don’t have to run,” joked boys cross country coach Marty Young. “The boys are doing a great job, and somewhere along the way we actually beat Antelope Valley High School and Pacifica High School, which was kind of surprising to all of us and to them as well.”

The girls volleyball team defeated Cornerstone Christian of Camarillo in its very first match, and it certainly wasn’t because of experience.

“We’ve played three matches, and some of the girls still don’t know what a dig or a sideout is,” said coach Dale Colburn, who has four players returning from last season, when the Lions were not a CIF team.

COLLEGE SPIKERS FACING THE BEST: You won’t find many leagues tougher than the Golden State Athletic Conference in women’s volleyball. Westmont, the NAIA’s 25th-ranked team, is off to a 1-3 start in the conference, but it’s a lot better than it sounds.

“Half our league is in the top 10 in the country,” said coach Jim Smoot without an ounce of exaggeration. Top-ranked Fresno Pacific, No. 2 Cal Baptist, No. 4 Concordia, No. 7 Azusa Pacific and No. 9 Biola are the top five GSAC teams early in the season.

Female Athlete of the Week: Eve Ettinger, Santa Barbara High Volleyball

Cal Baptist needed five sets to dispatch the Warriors, as did Concordia. Smoot introduced senior captain Allison Sharp, who leads the team in kills.

SBCC’s women’s spikers went 21-3 last season, and they’ve already downed some of the state’s best teams this year. Sports Information Director Dave Loveton spoke about the No. 18 Vaqueros’ upset wins over No. 14 Fullerton and No. 13 Golden West over the weekend at the Fullerton Quad Tournament.

GOOD AND BAD: San Marcos is the only local prep football team without a victory thus far, but coach Jeff Hesselmeyer was able to keep a smile on his face about it when reporting about the Royals’ home loss to a tough Beverly Hills squad on Thursday.

“The really good news was before the game we saw that their All-American 275-pound defensive end wasn’t going to play,” he said. “The bad news was they didn’t need him.”

WHO’S THE BOSS?: San Marcos girls volleyball coachErica Downing wasn’t able to make it to Harry’s, but players Emma Campbell and Laura Masho were there to represent the team. Downing, who teaches at Adams Elementary School, was busy at work, and Laguna Blanca coach Jim Alzina bore some indirect responsibility for her absence.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea as to why Erica Downing isn’t here today. It’s because her boss is a slave driver, and I know this really well because my wife (Principal Amy Alzina) is actually her boss,” he said with a grin. “I’ll talk to Amy about letting her out on lunch so she can get here.”

BROTHERS AND SISTERS: SBCC wide receiver Art Gonzalez was an honorable mention for the Male Athlete of the Week voting last week, when he was brought to Harry’s by coach Craig Moropoulos. His brother, Bishop Diego running back Brandon Gonzalez, was an honorable mention nominee this week after scoring three touchdowns on Friday against Mission Prep.

Santa Barbara High has its own Gonzalez brother, sophomore Emilio, who is sure to be in the hunt for the award over the next few years. The youngster currently leads the Dons in tackles and receptions.

Brandon Gonzalez’a assistant coach, Matt Capritto, spoke on behalf of the Cardinals football team on Monday and pointed out that his little sister, Lauren Capritto, was in the crowd to be honored as part of the Santa Barbara High volleyball team.

“I told my dad I’d embarrass her, but I think he does a pretty good job of that on his own,” said Matt.

Carpinteria also has a sibling story to tell this year. Warriors football coach Ben Hallock made sure the crowd didn’t confuse two-way lineman Gillam Craddock with his twin brother Wyatt, who was at last week’s luncheon.

RUN WITH THE WARRIORS: Westmont’s cross country program will host the annual Warrior Invitational on Saturday on its newly renovated campus. Assistant coach Lindsey Connolly reminded everyone that the public is welcomed to run in the race which will begin at 9:30 a.m.

SPECIAL OLYMPIAN OF THE MONTH: This month’s recipient is floor hockey star Melissa Galbraith, who also competes in basketball and tennis. She was nominated for her dedication to her teammates and her willingness to listen to her coaches in order to improve.

“She does a great job. When I’m coaching basketball, she’s always there early to help with with the balls and everything else,” said award sponsor Aaron Brown.

ATHLETES OF THE WEEK

Alex Peña, Dos Pueblos Football — The Chargers picked up their first win of the season on Friday night, defeating Cabrillo 41-16. Peña, a senior linebacker, intercepted two passes, returning one for a 43-yard touchdown. He also recovered a fumble and was in on a host of tackles.

Eve Ettinger, Santa Barbara High Volleyball — The Dons had an impressive third-place finish at the ultra-competitive Archbishop Mitty Tournament in San Jose this weekend, and the USC-bound Ettinger led the way with 55 kills in the event. Known mostly for her attacking prowess, Ettinger also recorded double-digit digs in three of the showdowns. In a victory over perennial power Redondo Union, she put away 21 kills and shoveled up 10 digs.

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