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Ceres High, Central Valley fall sports teams gearing up for full slate of games
Ceres High will field football, volleyball, water polo, cross country, boys soccer, girls golf and girls tennis teams this fall.

Central Valley will compete in six sports, excluding water polo.

Practices were staged last week.

Haley Fisicaro, Cassie Hines and their Ceres High varsity girls water polo teammates trained Wednesday, from 2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Bulldog players, including Fisicaro, Hines, Samantha Le, Jordan Pata and Katie Rose, executed passing and shooting drills with assistance from head coach Stephen Dias.

The Bulldogs finished in fifth place in the the Valley Foothill League standings (2-7) in 2011.

Ceres High's varsity boys water polo squad placed sixth in the VFL (4-9) a season ago.

Returners Terry Brogdon, Zachary Jones, Jacob Stone and Ethan Campbell, and newcomer Samuel Ochoa will lead the way this year.

"Both of our teams should be really strong," Bulldogs leader Tracy Bull said. "We expect to go to playoffs."

Ceres High will compete in the newly-formed Western Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs will face Central Catholic, Livingston, Los Banos and Pacheco twice. Powerhouses Oakdale and Sonora changed leagues.

The members of Ceres High's 2012 varsity girls tennis team have a tradition to uphold.

The Bulldogs will be vying for their sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

Ceres High compiled a 12-5 overall record and placed third in the WAC (8-4) a season ago.

"I'm hoping I can get enough out of them so we can squeak out another year," head coach Bryan Harden said. "I'm a pessimist. We have to earn it."

Bulldog teammates Kaylee Donovan, Kim Ochoa, Lizzy Magana, Manpreet Bahia, Kiran Kainth and Angelica Slater did suicide running drills towards the end of practice last Wednesday.

Head coach Mike Rodriguez has high hopes for Central Valley's varsity girls tennis team.

The Hawks return a wealth of experience, including Crystal Guzman, Jasmine Martinez, Elizabeth Mejia, Ali Martinez and Deja Jackson.

Guzman filled the Hawks' top singles position her junior year.

Mejia and Jasmine Martinez split time at No. 2 and 3 singles.

Jackson and Ali Martinez contributed at No. 1 doubles in 2011.

Hawk players completed warmup laps around the tennis-court facility and rallied at the beginning of Wednesday's practice, which ran from 2:45-5 p.m.

Crystal, Jasmine, Elizabeth, Ali and their Central Valley teammates also worked on their service and return games during group drills.

Rodriguez relayed his expectations to his team while providing instruction.

"If you don't want to work hard, go home," he said. "You don't have to be here."

The Hawks placed sixth in the WAC standings (2-10) last season.

"We should have a pretty good year," Rodriguez said.

Alfredo Arana, Joey Bettencourt and their Ceres High varsity boys soccer teammates cycled through fitness drills on Aug. 14 on the JV baseball field.

"The guys are working very hard," first-year head coach Javier Mercado said.

Mercado replaced Koeurn Phe.

Phe led the Bulldogs to a 53-22-10 overall record, one section title and four postseason appearances from 2008-11. Koeurn stepped down to spend more time with his family.

"There's definitely pressure," Mercado said.