SAMOHI — With Ocean League play underway, the Vikings’ girls’ volleyball team hopes to improve on the success they had in the playoffs last season.

So far this year, the Santa Monica High School Vikings have played two regular season games — last Wednesday they faced El Segundo and lost in straight games, 0-3. The girls then had their first league game against Morningside last Friday and swept the Monarchs, with a score of 3-0.

After being asked how her team looks so far this season, Samohi Head Coach Liane Sato, a former U.S. Olympic team member who won a bronze medal in 1992 at Barcelona, said, “So far, so good.”

“The team is training hard every day, we are working our butts off to get better and better.”

The team also played in several pre-season tournaments, including the 28th annual Ann Kang Varsity Invitation held at Iolani High school in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, which took place Aug. 12-14.

Samohi ended its run in that tournament with three wins and five losses before playing in the North High Tournament, where they faced Chadwick High School, losing both matches.

Coach Sato said her goals for this season include winning the Ocean League and qualifying for the California Interscholastic Southern Section playoffs once again. She said hard work and determination are what it will take to get the team to the late rounds of the postseason this year.

“We played really well in the North High Tournament,” Sato said. “We lost in the second round, but were able to look at a few different lineups and work in a few of the younger players.

“The players are still competing for starting positions. We have some younger players that have shown considerable improvement and are hungry to get on the court.”

The Vikings are not in the top 10 of the CIF-SS Division 3-AA poll, but are among a small group of teams on the cusp of making the rankings.

Last season, the Vikings finished with a record of 15 wins and 7 losses. They were second in the Ocean League with a record of 9-1, narrowly edged out by Beverly Hills High School.

The Vikings play in the six-team Ocean League. Sato said Beverly Hills is the league favorite, with other teams including Morningside, Culver City, Hawthorne and Inglewood High Schools.

The Vikings play league rival Inglewood today at 3:15 in the north gym. They continue league play on Friday against Culver City at home. That game is also set to begin at 3:15.

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