Rivals enjoy lunch together before going into battle

Dos Pueblos' softball team was feted on Monday at Harry's.

The weekly Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon brings rivals together.

Take Monday’s luncheon, for example: seated next to each other in a jam-packed Ranchero Room at Harry’s Plaza Cafe were the girls volleyball coaches and players from Laguna Blanca and Bishop Diego. They play each other Tuesday.

“I don’t know of many towns and communities where you can sit next to somebody and have lunch and then want to go out and beat them the next night,” Bishop Diego coach Jason Donnelly said.

The match will mark the return of Donnelly to the school he led to five CIF girls volleyball finals and a championship in 2006. He left to accept an assistant coaching position at Rutgers and returned this past spring and was hired to coach at Bishop Diego.

“The last three Falls I was in New Jersey coaching college volleyball,” he said in his first visit to the Round Table as the Bishop girls coach. “The one thing I missed was the Santa Barbara community and the Athletic Round Table. I enjoyed coming as an athlete and as a coach.”

Laguna Blanca coach Jim Alzina is looking forward to Donnelly’s visit.

“It will be fun to play Jason, he’ll be back at Laguna and we’ll have a good time”

Donnelly’s Cardinals are off to a 2-0 start while Laguna Blanca is 1-1 and ranked seventh in CIF Division 4-AA.

“I look forward to going over there,” Donnelly said. “Laguna Blanca was very good to me.”

His Cardinals will be facing a fired-up Laguna squad.

Before leaving Harry’s, Alzina spotted a placemat on the table with some doodling on it. The doodler was obviously a Bishop Diego player because written on the paper placemat were the words, “Beat Laguna Blanca.”

“Bulletin-board material,” said Alzina as he took the placemat back to Laguna Blanca.

Among the key players in Tuesday’s match are Nicole Tetherow and Diana Sleep of Bishop and Amanda Harvey and Fiona Jessup of Laguna.

Other luncheon highlights:

Channel League volleyball rivals Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at the Archbishop Mitty Tournament in San Jose over the weekend, and players from each team were recognized for winning a state title on the beach a couple of weeks ago.

Santa Barbara’s Dani Rottman and DP’s Katie Spieler won the 18-over doubles title at the California Beach Volleyball Association Cal Cup in Manhattan Beach.

On the hard court, Santa Barbara High coach John Gannon noted that Santa Barbara teams have earned a solid reputation.

“Santa Barbara teams not only can hang with but they can compete and win against some of the best programs in the nation,” he said.

The Dons beat defending state champion Palo Alto in quarterfinals of the Mitty Tournament on Friday, ending its 27-match winning streak.

Dos Pueblos also beat Palo Alto on Saturday.

“We sent the message, ‘Don’t mess with Santa Barbara teams,’ “ said Gannon.

Gannon praised setter Kira Schleich and Rottman, who had 70 kills during the tournament.

“Any school that gets either one of these players, Kira and Dani, will be lucky to have them for their work ethic, volleyball skills and what they mean to our team,” he said. “They’re just special players, I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Dos Pueblos athletic director Dan Feldhaus singled out Spieler and Taylor Racich for their performances at the Mitty Tournament. Spieler had more than 80 digs and Racich had 55 kills with only 10 errors and served tough.

—UCSB assistant volleyball coach described a wild rally in the Gauchos’ win over George Washington at the San Diego Tournament.

Setter Hannah Nielson and Stacy Schmidt went to the floor to dig a tip by George Washington’s middle blocker. Schmidt made a pancake dig and Nielson, while on the floor, kicked the ball in the air for Jenna Wilson, who tipped it over the net. A frazzled George Washington set up its middle blocker but Katey Thompson stopped the attack with a monster stuff block.

—The 2011 CIF champion Dos Pueblos softball team was honored by the Round Table. Co-coach Lee Harris said when he and Donn Roberts took over the program three years ago their main goal was to knock off  Buena.

“We had no aspirations of winning a CIF championship,” he said. “Our first thing was to beat Buena, that’s all we wanted to do. We beat Buena two out of three times (last season) and we beat five great teams in an incredible CIF run.”

—San Marcos cross country coach Lawrence Stehmeier shared a funny story about his sophomore runner Joe Logan at a recent meet in Lompoc.

“We refer to him as Joe ‘Wrong Way’ Logan,” Stehmeier said. “He was leading the sophomore race and wasn’t quite sure where a turn was and yelled out. When no one responded he made the turn and everyone followed. Luckily, everyone followed and no one was disqualified, but the times were really quick. We calibrated his time and he was still fast enough to beat our No. 7 on varsity, if he had run the extra 50 yards.”

Stehmeier promoted Wednesday’s Channel League meet at Dos Pueblos. The meet will feature “The Battle of the Bradfords,” twin brothers Grant and Tyler Bradford. Grant is the No. 4 runner at San Marcos and Tyler is No. 4 at DP.

—DP boys cross country coach Len Miller said Tyler Bradford has improved greatly from a year ago. He was running 19 minutes as a freshman and has already done 15:42 this season. “He comes from a running family and before long he’ll be No. 1 in the family.”

Miller also praised Ben York, who is a star on the baseball team. “He’s one of tri-captains. We’re having a lot of fun this season and a lot of it is due to the leadership and performance of Ben York.”

—SBCC football coach Craig Moropoulos spoke proudly of the Vaquero Honorary Captain program, which honors and raises awareness for an individual or group from the greater Santa Barbara community at every home football game, and establishes the presence that SBCC Athletics is a vehicle for positive influence and inspiration within the community.

The honorary captain for this Saturday’s game is Gwendolyn Strong, a 4-year-old stricken with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

“Gwendolyn and her mom and dad will be with our team and walk with our captains on Saturday at 6 p.m, before our game against Moorpark,” Moropoulos said. “We’re going to keep fostering that.”


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