By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Moving up in the state rankings, Santa Rosa Junior College opens the conference home volleyball slate Friday.
Santa Rosa takes a three match winning streak into the contest with Diablo Valley. The Big 8 Conference match is set for 6:30 p.m. at Haehl Pavilion.
Young with only four returning players, Santa Rosa is improving entering play in the very tough Big 8. Five of the league’s teams are ranked in the California Community College Athletic Association Top 25.
Santa Rosa is No. 16 in the state — up two spots from a week ago — and seventh in Northern California.
Expectations remain high for Santa Rosa (7-2, 1-0) even for a rebuilding team.
A year ago the Bear Cubs went undefeated to take a third consecutive Big 8 Conference title. Santa Rosa also reached the state final four a third straight season, falling in the semifinals. Santa Rosa was runners-up in the state final four in both 2010 and 2011.
Powering the Santa Rosa offense this season are Megan Johnson and Luisa McInnis. Johnson, from Sehome, Wash, has 75 kills. Following her with 43 kills is McInnis, out of Montgomery high.
Defensive anchors for Santa Rosa are Becca Steiner, from Windsor high, with a team high 48 digs. The versatile Johnson has 36 digs.
Leading the Bear Cubs is first year coach Kaitlin Ferguson, who played for the Bear Cubs after making All-Empire at Montgomery high.