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Nowhere to go but up
Hawks volleyball team has new head coach in former Modesto High leader Heese
The Hawks return a wealth of talent from last years 2-10 team, including Lynaya Lerma (pictured here), Mia Lorenzo, Sarah McElroy, Courtney Ahart, Lexy Cordova, Nicholette Mendez, Casey McCloskey and Leah Faamati. Central Valley tied for last place in the Western Athletic Conference standings at 2-10 with crosstown-rival Ceres High in 2012. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Kelly Heese, Central Valley High School's new varsity volleyball head coach, has a wealth of experience.

The 42-year-old Ripon graduate spent the past 12 seasons at Modesto High School, including 10 at the junior-varsity level and two with the frosh squad.

"It was just time for me to move on," Heese said. "I needed to go someplace where I can grow."

Heese inherits a program that has yet to experience many firsts.

Central Valley has never posted a winning record or qualified for the playoffs.

"That would be the ultimate goal in the long run," Heese said. "As long as we improve, I consider that success. We should hold our own this year."

The Hawks tied for last place in the Western Athletic Conference standings at 2-10 with crosstown-rival Ceres High last year.

Central Valley beat Ceres High twice in 2012.

The Hawks improved their head-to-head record against the Bulldogs to 5-9.

Central Valley rallied for a 15-25, 21-25, 25-16, 25-19, 15-5 victory over Ceres High during the WAC season finale.

The Hawks won the first meeting by shutout, 25-20, 25-18, 25-16.

"I'm going to plead the fifth on that one," Heese said when asked to make a comment about the rivalry. "I don't want to make any enemies."

Heese held tryouts for her team earlier this month.

Kelly made cuts on Aug. 16.

She kept 13 players: Courtney Ahart (Sr.), Lexy Cordova (Sr.), Sarah McElroy (Sr.), Leah Faamati (Sr.), Mia Lorenzo (Sr.), Casey McCloskey (Sr.), Nicholette Mendez (Sr.), Lynaya Lerma (Jr.), Elizabeth Olide (Jr.), Mireiyah Pelayo (Sr.), Erika Perez (Jr.), Nicole Munoz (So.) and Julia Ramsey (So.).

Lerma, Lorenzo, McElroy, Ahart, Cordova, Mendez, McCloskey and Faamati are returners.

"I have 16 daughters during the season," said Heese, who has three children of her own, ages 24, 19 and 18. "We're a family. Team building is really important to me. Without communication, you don't have anything on the court. If you coach well at practice, you don't have to coach during the game. I want to build a strong, competitive program. That's what we're working towards."

Heese was hired as a walk-on coach at Central Valley, which means she does not work on campus during regular school hours.

"They're looking for somebody to drive and push them," Heese said. "I'm a pretty competitive coach. I do volleyball year-round. My own three daughters play. It became my passion. The intensity of the game is what I love."

Kelly founded the Modesto-based Lady Sharx club team in 2010.

Heese also runs clinics and offers private lessons.

"I'm very competitive," Heese said. "Losing is not in my vocabulary. When I'm bowling, I'm not doing it for fun."

Heese graduated from Ripon High School in 1989.

She earned five varsity letters, including three in softball and two in volleyball.

A standout catcher, Kelly got pregnant her senior year and turned down a full-ride scholarship to Fresno State.

"It was a tough decision," she said. "I chose not to take it and have my daughter."

Central Valley's varsity volleyball team had four different head coaches during its first seven years of existence, including Debb Causey, Tauheedah Gaines, Amy Castillo and Margo Arzola.

The Hawks posted a combined record of 20-72 in conference play.

Gaines led Central Valley to a program-best 7-9 record in 2009.

"I'm looking forward to building this program," Heese said. "If they like what I'm doing, I anticipate being here for quite some time. I don't plan on going anywhere. Hopefully, I'll be able to inspire some of the girls. They want to be successful. We have a lot of work to do. You have to lose to appreciate winning."