Darlene Tobler handpicked Kelly Heese to lead Ceres High’s varsity girls volleyball team.
Heese inherits a program that improved tremendously under Tobler’s direction.
Tobler guided the Bulldogs to a combined record of 21-35 in Western Athletic Conference play and one Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth during her four-year tenure.
Ceres High had a 5-43 record against league opponents prior to Tobler’s arrival.
“We both have our athletes’ best interests at heart,” Tobler said. “She (Heese) values family just as much as I do. She’ll fight tooth and nail for her kids. She’s very loyal.”
Heese assembled her team on Aug. 16.
Allison Stiles (Jr.), Vianney Perez (Sr.), Bella Curry (Sr.), Mya Robinson (Sr.), Cheralyn Durossette (Jr.), Lysaida Munoz (Jr.), Catryna Marquez (Jr.), Bethanie Thornberry (Jr.), Alizae Vargas (Jr.), Jasmine Fuamatu (Sr.), Kitiana Tuakalau (So.) and Dominique Arendt (Fr.) earned roster spots.
Stiles, Perez, Curry, Robinson, Durossette and Munoz are returners.
Marquez, Thornberry and Vargas competed at the junior-varsity level last fall.
Stiles was named to the Western Athletic Conference Second Team as a sophomore.
Perez earned honorable-mention recognition.
“We have a lot of talent but we don’t have height or power,” Heese said. “The one thing I really love is the girls’ enthusiasm. Very positive spirits.”
“They’re very coachable,” she added. “They work together really well. They have a good rapport. That’s huge.”
“I’m really excited,” Stiles said. “I like how strict she (Heese) is. She has high expectations for us. She’ll push us.”
“I really like how she (Heese) teaches,” said Curry, who played for Heese’s Lady Sharx Volleyball Club during the offseason. “She got me to jump higher, pass better and improve myself.”
Heese coached crosstown-rival Central Valley’s varsity girls volleyball team for four years (2012-16).
The Hawks reached unprecedented heights under Heese’s guidance.
Central Valley amassed a 30-23 record in WAC action and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs three times.
Heese will vie for duplicate success at Ceres High.
“Nobody practices to lose,” she said. “Everybody should have the mindset you practice to win. You strive for the top.”
The Bulldogs placed seventh with a 3-11 mark in the 2018 WAC standings.
Ceres High’s league schedule will include matches versus Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Los Banos, Pacheco, Lathrop and Mountain House.
The Bulldogs last participated in the postseason in 2016.
“Even though we don’t have the height, I think we’ll have success if we work together as a team and learn what she (Heese) teaches us,” Stiles said. “We can be a lot better. We will all push to get to where we want to be.”
“We want to get more wins,” Curry said. “I believe we can be more competitive. I believe we can get there (to playoffs).”