Forest Lake volleyball team looks toward CVCL title

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Travis Smith can’t help but project title aspirations for his Forest Lake Christian volleyball team. Never mind that the team includes just two seniors back from last year’s team, which placed second in the Central Valley Christian League. The leadership of those two seniors and some major talent coming up has Smith excited about the fall. “Our goal is two win league and it’s definitely do-able,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to get these girls to jell as a team. Woodland (Christian) is our biggest competition, but they don’t have the size and talent that we do.” Seniors Emily English and Stephanie Herron are the core of that size and talent, respectively. English can dominate in the middle with her size and athleticism. Herron is a heady setter in the Falcons’ 6-2 offense. “They’ve really taken the leadership roles and the rest of the team looks up to them as good players, and mentors,” Smith said. English’s sophomore sister Aly is the other setter on the squad after seeing significant time on the court last year as a freshman. Sophomore Morgan Koch, who also joined the varsity midway through last season, is another dangerous weapon in the middle. Forest Lake has plenty of those. Junior Emily Woodward is another 6-footer on the front line. While the Falcons are loaded inside, junior Megan Gauthier is the lone standout at outside hitter. She captained the Falcons’ junior varsity last season and Smith is expecting an excellent senior from Gauthier this fall. The other outside hitter slot is a toss-up between three players, Smith said. Junior Alyssa Smith, the coach’s daughter, is a tough defensive specialist. Travis has been coaching her and her classmates since they were in seventh grade. “We don’t have much experience, but our juniors are stepping up to fill the gap,” Smith said. “And the seniors are ready to take the reins.” Forest Lake finished just behind Woodland Christian in the CVCL last season and lost its Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff opener to Vacaville Christian. While Smith is confident, he knows the CVCL has gotten tougher as teams like Foresthill and Victory Christian build their programs. “Our league has become very competitive over the last few years,” he said. “Before, we wouldn’t even bother thinking about league, but now our league is putting out some quality teams. There are no games we can go to sleep on.”