By Ray Hamill — Former Arcata Tiger Vanessa Holland has taken an already impressive basketball game to a whole new level since leaving the North Coast.
The 2017 Arcata graduate has become an integral part of a strong Chico State team, starting all 46 games since she joined the Wildcats before last season.
This year, as a sophomore, Holland has taken on a bigger role on a 12-6 team that currently sits fourth in the CCAA and is ranked No. 9 in the West Region.
“She has grown many different ways from last season,” Chico State head coach Brian Fogel said. “Vanessa is assuming more of a leadership role and is one of our hardest working players on the team. She is constantly getting better in all phases of the game.”
That work ethic has paid off.
Holland is averaging 6.9 points a game, fifth best on the team, but the 5-7 guard has been contributing in far more ways than that, and is one of the Wildcats’ most dangerous perimeter shooters.
One of two sophomores on a starting lineup that also features a pair of seniors and a junior, Holland is second on the team in shooting percentage (.431) and in 3-point shooting percentage (.426).
As a starting true freshman a year ago she finished third on the team with 32 3-pointers.
Holland’s understanding of the game has also improved in her time with the Wildcats.
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“She runs the floor well, defends the tougher wings, and doesn’t turn the ball over,” Fogel said.
In high school, Holland was a part of an Arcata dynasty and a starter on four of the Tigers’ six straight league title squads.
She was all-league in all four years, as well as earning Big 5 MVP honors a remarkable three straight times.
This year the Wildcats are in contention for an NCAA tournament spot.
Last weekend, they fell in overtime to Humboldt State, allowing the Lumberjacks move ahead of them in the conference standings.
But with seven games remaining, the Chico women have everything to play for.
Holland appears to be getting stronger as the Wildcats prepare for their playoff push too, hitting double digits in scoring in two of the past three games, including an 11-point outing against HSU.
“What she brings to the team is a great competitive spirit and a trusting teammate that wants to succeed,” Folgel said. “She is a valued member of our program and plays a big part of our success.”
The Wildcats travel to Turlock to play Stanislaus State on Saturday.