HomeBlocksFront-GridFalcons, Nitros, Tornados Open Volleyball Season

Falcons, Nitros, Tornados Open Volleyball Season

First published in the Aug. 20 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

The nets are being strung on the court with care, for the high school girls’ volleyball season soon will be there for Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Hoover. All three play in the Pacific League, which retained its unique scheduling where all the schools play each other once before being separated into upper and lower competitive tiers for the second round of league competition.
“From a logistical, scheduling standpoint, it’s much more difficult for the school, but for the girls it’s a lot of fun,” CV coach Matt Simons said.
“It sets a straightforward midseason goal to shoot for.”
“We’ve definitely improved in the past year, so it’s possible for us to finish in the top tier,” Glendale coach Marji Keyfauver said.


This season at Crescenta Valley, success on the court will be a collective effort, featuring a varsity compliment of 16 girls.
“We don’t have any superstars, but we also don’t have any glaring holes or weaknesses,” Simons said. “It’s that cliche, ‘It takes a team. It’s a team effort,’ but, truly, our focus is this year is everyone doing their job, and we’re going to look real strong.”
That is not to say that their roles are old hat for the Falcons.
“We’ve got a lot of girls who are learning to play new positions. They are skilled, but they are learning new positions. It’s been exciting as you see that dramatic improvement in the gym every day.”
Senior Hyacinth Ang will be taking on the setting duties for the first time.
“We were looking for someone to take on the setting role and she got real excited. She’s been doing a great job,” Simons said. “She was an outside hitter, but she’ll be setting for us this year.”
Senior Rory Solano is a varsity returner but will be moving from opposite to the outside hitter position.
“She is constantly improving,” the coach said.
Additionally, there will be a youth movement for the Falcons, gaining experience as they contribute.
“We’ve got three sophomores that are going to play a big role for us this year,” Simons said. “They are outstanding. They are studs, but they are going to be in some different situations they haven’t faced yet because of their age and inexperience.”
Those sophomores include libero Sophia Shin, the only freshman on varsity last season, and starting middle blocker Isabel Haytayan “who is a tireless worker, great energy, great attitude.” Rounding out the trio is Caden Pinto at utility: “She can set, she can hit, she can pass.”
Senior Nyra Tatoulian returns at outside hitter and “hits the ball hardest for us,” Simons said. Meanwhile, senior Jana Coffeen will be moving to middle blocker this season. “She is our most consistent player.”
Crescenta Valley boils it down like this.
“Our two goals are to get better and have fun. Big picture: we always want to try to compete for the [Pacific] League championship,” Simons said.


“We are a very young team. When I say young, I mean young,” Keyfauver said. “Our stars are comprised of mainly sophomores and juniors, but, thankfully, two of those players were two of our strongest players last year.”
One is Aleina Manaois. The sophomore led the team in aces in her freshman campaign and earned first-team All-Pacific League honors.
“She is a very strong outside hitter. She also is a very good setter and defensive specialist,” Keyfauver said. “She is experienced, very steady, has a great heart and I would say she plays a couple of years beyond her chronological age. You would never guess she was a sophomore. So she’s kind of the cornerstone of our team and our captain.”
The other key returner is junior Arianna Vargas, who uses her skills to excel at outside hitter, among other talents.

“A very good defensive player as well. I’d love to have her play libero, but we can’t afford not to have her hit outside. She’s just incredibly steady,” Keyfauver said. “[She’s] also another great server and I think last season she played probably every point of every match that we were in. So we are very lucky to have these girls back from last year to help our young players along.”
Keyfauver coached extensively in the 1990s, including leading the boys’ team at John Marshall High School to two CIF section championships, but was lured back into the coaching world by the Nitros and took over the program just three weeks before last season. Nonetheless, they set the goal to of getting to .500 for the first time since 2015, which the Nitros did at 10-10.
“Obviously our goal this year is to pass that mark and then we are definitely looking to make the playoffs and hopefully make it past the first round,” Keyfauver said. “I’m anticipating we will improve steadily throughout this season, especially with our middles because they are the most inexperienced of our group thus far.”
The most experienced of those middles is junior Mariam Brito-Salazar.
“If she can start off strong, I think that will really make a huge, huge difference for us,” the coach said.
A new face will be senior Vanya Arakelian, who came over from Hoover and will be available to play in mid-September after sitting out due to CIF transfer rules.
“She was a libero for [Hoover] last year and will be playing for us this year,” Keyfauver said.
While the Nitros wait for Arakelian to become eligible, senior Sofia Safarian and sophomore Erin Freeman will be filling in.
The Nitros will run a 6-2 offense, meaning they will have two setters, because the coach wants to take advantage of Manaois’ setting prowess while still utilizing her outside hitting. Also entrusted with setting duties will be the coach’s daughter Emmi Whiting and Elejana Cooper.
“We’re just looking to improve over last year and we are excited,” Keyfauver said.


Hoover has a new head coach in Araz Maleky, who just began working with her players on the first day of school.
“I see a lot of enthusiasim and potential. Honestly, these girls have been waiting to come back to play volleyball for such a long time that they are really excited to come back,” Maleky said.
It is a homecoming of sorts for Maleky, who attended Clark Magnet High School but, since there were no athletic teams there, played volleyball all four of her high school years at Hoover.
“[We] had to go to our home schools and play, and mine was Hoover,” Maleky said. “I had the chance to play all four years, which was honestly the best high school [experience] anyone could get.”
Maleky is also a volleyball coach at the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat, an Armenian community center with a strong history of athletic programs. She also played there as a youngster.
“I really tend to focus on how to build communication as a team, how to work together, how to overcome a mistake that’s been made, or how to celebrate a great point they have made,” Maleky said. “I appreciate how everyone communicates. Volleyball is about speaking up and being loud on the court. When they are loud and they communicate and talk to each other is what I am hoping for in a way: to create this family within the ohana family at Hoover.”

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