Denair Volleyball Squad Making Strides As Season Progresses

Submitted by Denair High School

There are eight matches left in the Denair High volleyball season. And though the Coyotes have struggled at times – winning just once — Coach Christy North has seen consistent improvement and competitiveness. She believes Denair will play a factor in which team wins the Southern League title this fall.

“We continue to work on our serve receive issues, while steadily increasing our own serve percentage,” North said. “However, we are a stronger team than in the past, and are improving our strategies and skills each contest.

“I still believe we can have a .500 record (in league), and definitely be a spoiler against a team who doesn’t take us seriously.”

The Coyotes (1-10 overall, 1-4 in the SL) will rely on its two senior co-captains — setter Adrianna Snyder and outside hitter Cheyenne Souza – to lead the way to more success.

Snyder missed about a month and a half after suffering a concussion the first week of the season. North could see a difference when she returned. “I think her energy was contagious.”

North said Souza consistently has put pressure on opponents with her serves and aggressiveness at the net.

In Denair’s lone victory – a 3-2 win over Gustine on Sept. 11 — freshman Caitlin Warda came off the bench to start as outside hitter in the deciding game and served seven points in a row, including two aces.

North said the Coyotes still are refining their skills using a “libero,” which is a defensive specialist. Liberos must wear a contrasting jersey color from  her teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height.

Junior Tati Abebe began playing libero in the Gustine match.

The Coyotes’ next match is home against Waterford on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Sports Camps and First-Ever Drone Camp Coming to Denair High

Submitted by Denair High School

School may be out, but summer will be a busy time around the Denair High School campus. Between mid-June and late July, there will be four sports camps as well as a first-of-its-kind drone camp.

Here is a complete list of the camps and costs, the age range of those eligible to enroll, and contact information. Registration payments can be made at the high school office through Thursday, June 7. After that, payments can be dropped off at the district office across the street.

Softball Camp

  • Dates:June 14-15
  • Time:9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Cost:$20
  • Grades:5-10
  • Coach:Katy Johnston
  • Details:Instruction on basic skills and fundamentals related to offense, defense and pitching. Players should bring water and snacks; lunch will be provided each day. Players should wear appropriate clothing and provide their own gloves.

Volleyball Camp and Volleyball Kids Camp

  • Dates:June 18-20
  • Time:9 a.m. to noon
  • Cost:$10 per day or $15 for all three days (paid in advance)
  • Grades:4-5, boys and girls
  • Coaches:Christy North, Courtney Lira, Yuli Tafolla
  • Details:Beginners will learn basic skills and techniques, along with introductory team strategies and conditioning. All athletes must bring their Denair IDs the first day and wear appropriate clothing (T-shirts, athletic shorts, socks, court shoes, hair clips, etc.) Parents may attend, but should bring their own chairs.

Football Camp

  • Dates:July 2-3
  • Time:8-11:30 a.m.
  • Cost:$20
  • Ages:8-13
  • Coach:Anthony Armas (209) 620-1985
  • Details:Players will learn general football skills on offense and defense, separated by position. The focus will be on proper techniques. There will be no contact. Players should wear shorts, T-shirts and cleats.

Basketball Camp

  • Dates:July 18-19
  • Time:8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Cost:$10 per day
  • Grades:3-8, boys and girls
  • Coach:Ezcally Lopez elopez43@csustan.eduand Patty Valverde
  • Details:Focus will be on improving skills in shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding and defense. Players should wear shorts, T-shirts and appropriate shoes. Snacks, water and a certificate of completion will be provided.

Drone Camp

  • Dates:July 23-27
  • Time:8 a.m. to noon or 1-5 p.m.
  • Cost:Free (space is limited however)
  • Ages:9-15
  • Coach:Darrin Allen
  • Details:This is about hands-on learning, innovation and adventure. Students will take to the skies and become an honorary junior drone pilot. Three free meals will be available for all students.

Volleyball, Cross Country Teams Search for Success

Submitted by Denair High School

The seasons have started for the athletes on the Denair high volleyball and cross country teams.

The girls playing volleyball jumped right into the Southern League schedule with two matches this week. Monday at Waterford, they lost a well-played match 25-22, 25-12 and 25-17. Wednesday at home, they fell in straight sets to Orestimba 25-9, 25-6 and 25-12.

Against Waterford, first-year Christy North felt that the “strength of our game was serving.” Cheyenne Souza and Courtney Prock each had three aces while and Alexandria Sanders and Bryanna Suarez had two each.

Against Orestimba, North was impressed by the Souza, one of the team’s outside hitters.

“In one amazing series, she hit the ball, they blocked it and we picked it up three times in the same play!” North said. “t was very exciting, especially near the beginning of the match, but then their block intimidated the rest of the girls.”

North said she is looking for improvement in passing and receiving. The Coyotes will have a chance to score their first victory with upcoming matches against Mariposa (Sept. 14) and Ripon Christian (Sept. 18).

Denair’s runners competed in the first Southern League meet Sept. 7 at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto. It was a 5K course, mostly on grass with only a couple of small hills. Denair finished fourth behind Waterford, Orestimba and Delhi.

The top finisher for the Coyotes was senior Alex Flores in 21 minutes, 21 seconds. He was followed by Pablo Flores (21:40), Uriel Gonzalez (22:59), Brigg Wenstrand (23:38) and Johnny Ibarra (24:18).

“I am proud of all my team, they all ran hard,” said coach Matthew Groom. I am especially proud of my underclassmen for stepping up to varsity and giving us a chance to score as a team.”

Earlier, Denair competed against 31 other schools in the Lodi Flame Invitational at Lake Lodi. Gonzalez was the Coyotes’ top finisher in the varsity race in 24:37, while Pablo Flores had the top time (13:27) among all Division V runners in the JV race, followed by Ibarra (14:43) and Wenstrand.

Next up for Denair is the Frogtown Invitational Sept. 19 at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.

DHS Volleyball and Cross Country Teams Also in Action this Fall

Denair High School Logo

Submitted by Denair High School

Football may be king on Friday night, but there are two other sports being contested this fall by Denair High athletes – volleyball and, for the first time, boys and girls cross country. Here’s a quick look at what to expect from those teams.


There was big news even before the season started as the players had to absorb a late coaching change. Second-year coach David Lewellen, who is a walk-on, will not be available for at least half the season because of scheduling conflict with his law enforcement job.

With long odds of finding another coach at the last minute, Denair Athletic Director Darrin Allen stepped into the breach. He and volunteer assistant Yulissa Tafoya will fill the void, with Lewellen coming to as many practices as he can make.

“I can’t be here as much, but it’s made it an easier transition having all these people to help,” Lewellen told the Turlock Journal.

The Coyotes didn’t win a match last year, going 0-14 in the Southern League and 0-15 overall. Still, with four seniors returning, many of the girls having gained experience and the addition of a talented transfer, Denair has reasons for optimism.

The seniors are Vickie Adler, Ileah Brantley, Kelsey Park and Eva Varni. The transfer is 6-foot-1 outside hitter Cheyenne Souza, a sophomore who attended Pitman High in Turlock last year.

“She is very good,” said Lewellen. “She can almost be playing anywhere and I am really excited with the team this year. The fact that she wanted to come here and play with us is a huge confidence booster.” Continue reading “DHS Volleyball and Cross Country Teams Also in Action this Fall” »