High School Sports

Athletes of the week


Golden Valley volleyball

When duty calls, Alison Hague is usually among the first to throw herself into the mix, Matt Thissen is quick to point out. After spending her junior season as a defensive specialist, she switched to setter this season.

"She is a floor leader," the Cougars' coach said.

Last week she had 35 assists and four aces in a win over Turlock and 26 assists and two aces in a win over Los Banos.

The 5-foot-5-inch Hague has helped GV to a 4-0 start in the Central California Conference, including a thrilling, five-set win over rival Atwater in a showdown between two of the CCC's three unbeatens. GV plays the other unbeaten, Buhach Colony, on Oct. 9.

"CCC is going to be a battle right down to the end," said Thissen, whose Cougars have won 11 of their last 13 matches.




Oakdale water polo

Size isn't everything if you're in the goal, but it helps when trying to cover the cage with balls flying at you from all over.

Junior Garrett Porter, at 6-feet-5-inches, used his size, both his height and wingspan, to lead Oakdale to one of the biggest upsets in Modesto Metro Conference history -- a 6-5 win over Johansen.

"Garrett started to shine as a sophomore with 20-plus saves in some games, but Tuesday he stopped five of six 5-meter penalty shots," said coach Alan Stender, noting it was Oakdale's first victory over Johansen. "His large frame and blocks intimidated the shooters into missing the cage three times."

Porter had a crucial save in the final minutes. Staring down an attacker, and with no defender nearby, Porter blocked a point-blank shot. The play swung the momentum back toward Oakdale.



Denair volleyball

You can teach players to hit and serve, and to space themselves on the court, Denair's Steve Doerksen notes. What about speed and size?

"Some things just can't be taught. You often have those abilities or you don't. You can fine-tune those, teaching kids how to better use their height and quickness," Doerksen said. "After that, it becomes a matter of how much effort they put into it."

Doerksen never worries about the effort he'll receive from Janay Bankston, his 6-foot middle blocker: She totaled 41 kills, 10 blocks and 10 aces as Denair split two matches.

"She's been playing travel ball and it's helped her react to opponents' sets," Doerksen said. "She positions herself where the ball will come over."

Bankston, who has a 3.5 GPA, is considering Stanislaus State as her college destination.



Hilmar soccer

There's bound to be an abundance of Bettencourts when Hilmar takes the field: There are four on the roster -- brothers Jordan and Curtis, and their cousins, Simon and Alex -- and Simon's father, Louie Bettencourt, coaches. There's also Simon Castro, yet another cousin.

"There are pluses and minuses, but overall it works out because they practice with each other," Louie Bettencourt said. "But if one starts heading in the wrong direction, the rest of them are likely to do the same."

More often, though, they go the same direction.

Jordan made sure of that last week, as the junior striker scored five goals to lead the Yellowjackets to two Western Athletic Conference wins. Hilmar is in the playoff chase, but still has some work to do.

"I've got a few guys who need to put all their effort into it," Louie said. "Then we'll be ready."