It can be very confusing when coach Bronson Oliveira gives instructions to the Pacifica Christian girls volleyball team.
His 12-player roster has two players named Liz as well as two Samanthas, not to mention a Maddie and a Maddy.
“A lot of times we’ll go by numbers in practice: ‘8 over here, 10 over there,'” he said. “Nobody has nicknames. They’re not helping me out at all.”
Luckily for Oliveira, his squad isn’t lacking in athletic background. The Seawolves boast nine graduating players, and their new head coach is excited to see the impact of their collective experience on the team’s success this season.
Pacifica has not only managed to win eight league titles in a row, but it has also reached the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals as many times during that span. Last year, the Seawolves seized the Liberty League crown and reached the 4AA quarterfinals before falling 3-1 to Santa Fe Springs-St. Paul.
“It’s definitely something that we strive for,” Oliveira said of extending the program’s streaks. “It’s always a goal. At the same time, we understand it’s high school volleyball and it fluctuates from year to year. I don’t think there’s a ton of pressure, but it’s definitely one of our top goals as well as performing well in CIF.”
Building on those legacies will likely require strong efforts from the senior class as Pacifica enters Liberty League play, which begins Oct. 3 with a match against Los Angeles-Archer. The Seawolves’ only conference loss last season came at the hands of Archer.
The senior corps features setter and floor captain Georgia Twersky as well as middle blocker Liz Hook and outside hitter Maddy Daly, who is transitioning away from her middle blocker spot. Additional adjustments come as junior middle blocker Ella Hix recovers from a knee injury.
“I’m trying to get a feel for everybody and figure out everybody’s role,” Oliveira said. “But it’s going pretty well right now. Everybody’s happy with the direction we’re going in.”
At the helm of the program is Oliveira, a 2006 graduate of Santa Monica High School who replaces Julie Bennett.
Oliveira, who recently spent two seasons as a junior varsity coach and varsity assistant at Calabasas, is familiar with Pacifica because he was the volleyball program’s freshman coach in 2012 and has worked at the school occasionally as a substitute teacher.
The team kicked off its current campaign with a 3-0 (25-9, 25-6, 25-12) sweep of New Roads on Sept. 1.
The Seawolves then posted mixed results at the Laguna Blanca tournament four days later in Santa Barbara, topping Malibu and Carpinteria but falling to Santa Ynez and Palm Springs in abridged matches.
Pacifica found its groove Sept. 9 with a 3-0 (25-6, 25-13, 25-6) rout of Los Angeles-Pilibos on the road thanks in part to Hook, who had 10 kills, two aces and two blocks. Daly added seven kills and sophomore outside hitter Thalia Rakosky chipped in six for the Seawolves.
“There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but it’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Oliveira said. “It’s been great. The girls have been really receptive, and we’ve got lots of leadership. They’re taking charge.”