For starters, three players dropped out of school and another player left the team due to school and work commitments.
Then sophomore Cassie Nelson was lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder. Now freshman outside hitter Liz Tomforde will miss tonight’s game at Diablo Valley College with a shoulder injury.
The Santa Rosa Junior College women’s volleyball team doesn’t have many players. But it does have a 27-1 record, a No. 1 ranking in Northern California and a No. 3 ranking in the state.
Bear Cubs coach Kelly Wood, down to eight players with Tomforde sidelined, says the attrition hasn’t forced her to reset her team’s goals. But she is learning how to prepare for a deep postseason run with two players currently on her bench.
“I don’t ever lower my expectations,” Wood said. “It’s just about readjusting my focus: ‘How is this going to be a possibility?’ We’re trying to stay healthy and get plenty of rest and sleep. We’ve had a lot of days off. I’ve probably set a record for days off.”
With such a short bench — SRJC uses assistant coaches to scrimmage at practic — Wood has been unable to rest some of her stars this season.
Freshman outside hitter Turea Jones, sophomore defensive specialist Cayla Robinson and freshman middle blocker Daniela Loyola have played in each of the Bear Cubs’ 95 games this season. Jones, in fact, has been subbed out for four points all season.
Despite the adversity, SRJC is in the midst of a 16-match winning streak.
The Bear Cubs, who return just two starters from last year’s 26-5 editioon, will finish the regular season with home matches against Sierra on Friday and Modesto on Nov. 19.
“I knew we were going to be good, but I also knew we were going to be young,” Wood said. “They’ve definitely exceeded my expectations.”