Santa Catalina Volleyball by Layla Borman

The Santa Catalina fall sports seasons went out with a bang! Santa Catalina sports teams have always had aggressiveness, determination, and spirit. Among these sports is Santa Catalina’s Volleyball team, which just completed one of its most rewarding seasons. Catalina’s Varsity Volleyball achieved a successful season, whether it was due to their new coach, Dane Holmgren, their devoted fanbase, or their unimaginable grit. 

The previous year’s team got them a spot in the highest league division, Gablian. Playing the most competitive teams in the county, Santa Catalina finished 5th. During the season, Santa Catalina took sets off of Salinas High School, which was only achieved by one other team in the whole league. As their main season came to a close, their submission into the Central Coast Section playoffs was approved. In CCS, Santa Catalina took their streak all the way to a 4-set loss in the Semi-Finals against Summit Shasta. Along the way, they battled Mount Madonna in a 4-set win, earning their spot in the Semi-Final. 

Aside from the whole team’s success, one player stood out, the team’s setter, Anna Yeh ’23. Anna’s hard work and spirited attitude as team captain led the team to a good season. The team’s co-captain, Ellesia Corona ’24, states, “Anna continually br[ings] everyone’s energy up and contributes immensely to the team dynamic. It was a blast working with her, and she was a great captain aside from the fact that she couldn’t call the coin toss for the life of her.” In addition to Ellesia, Coach Holmgren also expresses that Anna “definitely stands out and is someone that [he considers] a 5 tool volleyball player.” A 5 tool player meaning she is skilled in every aspect; setting, serving, passing, hitting and digging. Anna is a “great leader” and “fierce competitor.” Coach Holmgren also explains how he asked Anna to play “a position that is not her normal position on her club team, for us she had to become our setter which she didn’t have much experience in. But she did it so eloquently and picked it up so fast, which just made everyone around her better.” Furthermore, Anna achieved All-League 1st Team and was awarded the Gabilan Division’s Defensive Player of the Year. This award is given to one player in each division, and it is rare for a setter to receive it. 

Catalina’s Volleyball program had a massive new change in the coaching department, with well-loved and missed Coach Paul Elliot leaving after 14 years of coaching volleyball and holding the Athletic Director position. In his place this year is Dane Holmgren, who was the assistant coach at California State University, Monterey Bay, for 7 years and head coach at Gavilan College in Gilroy for 2 years. Coach Holmgren took the job of head Varsity Coach, with Coach Katie Arroyo as an assistant. Leading the team to a highly respected spot in league play and playoffs. However, this was not the first time Holmgren had coached at Catalina. He had previously coached the Junior Varsity Catalina team for 2 years before coaching college volleyball. When asked about his experience here at Catalina, he says that “it’s been a unique experience, especially coming from the college level back to Catalina,” and he says he “can’t tell you how awesome it’s been.” Varsity player Sophia Tonini, ’24, describes Holmgren as “spirited, competitive, and positive.” She includes that he “knows the sport really well, and that’s what led them to so many victories.” Coach Holmgren has already impacted the team so much just in his first couple of months at Catalina. Additionally, Varsity player Sofia Luna, ’24, says she “love[s] his contribution to the team especially considering how it’s his first season with us.” 

Santa Catalina’s volleyball program has always been successful, but this year they exceeded the norm and achieved the goals they had in place. We are all excited to see what Catalina volleyball has in store for next year!