Winless in Western Athletic Conference play a year ago, Ceres High School's varsity volleyball program will target improvement this season.
"We have a young team but they're eager to learn and they play well together," head coach Stephanie Hamilton said. "We have nowhere to go but up. Being the underdog is okay with us."
Ceres High has a 12-player roster: Ryleigh Honberger (Sr.), Valerie Hamilton (Sr.), Jessica Arreola (Jr.), Cameron Diaz (Sr.), Nichole Parker (Sr.), Kadie Brenning (Jr.), Baylee Carlin (Jr.), Allyson Hailey (Jr.), Kaylee Holloway (So.), Raimee Mendoza (So.), Kendall Meyer (So.) and Shelby Veuve (Fr.).
Honberger was selected to the Western Athletic Conference Second Team as a junior. She tallied 128 digs, 65 kills, 38 blocks, 10 aces and four assists.
"We're pretty well-rounded," coach Hamilton said. "We have some good hitters, blockers, setters and passers. They don't quit, they work hard and they are committed to one another. We can get better all the way around. That's our goal."
The top three teams in the WAC qualify for the playoffs.
Los Banos (12-0), Central Catholic (9-3) and Patterson (8-4) advanced last year.
Central Valley (5-7) placed fourth overall.
Livingston (4-8) and Pacheco (4-8) tied for fifth.
Central Catholic relocated to the Valley Oak League as part of conference realignment.
"Central Catholic moved from our league but (newcomer) El Capitan will be a challenge," coach Hamilton said. "We've had the opportunity to see them play. They're a well-rounded team with big hitters."
Central Valley beat Ceres High twice (3-0, 3-1) and improved its head-to-head record against the Bulldogs to 7-9 in 2013.
The Hawks have won the last four meetings.
Central Valley tied for last place in league play at 2-10 with Ceres High in 2012.
"I have not seen Central Valley's team play this season," Stephanie Hamilton said. "It's always a fun game. Bottom line, we are all from Ceres and look forward to Ceres having two good teams. The team that wants it more will win, but I definitely wouldn't count us out."
Ceres High last participated in the playoffs in 2010-11.
"We're not looking that far ahead yet," coach Hamilton said. "We're taking it one game at a time."