CR women embracing a new challenge on the volleyball court

College of the Redwoods Athletics

By Ray Hamill — One of the biggest challenges facing new College of the Redwoods volleyball coach Paul Castillo is getting his players to believe in what they’re capable of.

But they are beginning to show signs of that.

Castillo and the Corsairs are 2-4 early in the season after taking one of three matches at Skyline College in San Bruno on Friday.

The CR women lost in three sets to San Francisco City (24-25, 27-29, 18-25) and in four sets to Porterville (25-14, 20-25, 24-26, 20-25), with a three-set win over Skyline (25-15, 25-16, 25-16) sandwiched in between.

“We’re making a lot of mistakes, a lot of unforced mistakes, and that comes with learning how to win,” the head coach said. “They’re playing scared out there because they’re not used to competing and not used to stepping up at that level.”

Castillo’s goal is to get them there and it’s a challenge the coach and his players appear to be embracing.

“Everybody, from the whole department to the teams we play, all talk about how much better (the players) are and how they are enjoying the experience,” Castillo said. “In that way, we’re having a good season.”

Two former H-DNL players, in particular, are having a big impact on the team early in the new season.

Sophomore setter Molly Slayton, a former Del Norte Warrior, had 18 assists in the win over Skyline and added 35 assists and nine digs against Porterville.

“She has stepped up and is working hard,” the coach said of Slayton. “And she gives zero complaints. She’s a very good team player.”

Arcata’s Caroline Dieker also has impressed early and had five kills and a block against San Francisco.

“She’s working hard and leading us in hitting percentage,” the coach said. “She’s a great force out there.”

Recent Fortuna graduate Kylee Fennell also is making an early impact as she adjusts to the speed of the college game and finished with eight kills and two hitting errors against Skyline.

And the attitude of the players has remained upbeat.

“I really enjoy that even though they’ve had a rough go and are not winning some games we should be winning, they’re still positive,” Castillo said. “They’re not pointing fingers and not getting down on each other. They’re good teammates to each other.”

Next up, the Corsairs will travel to play both Mendocino and Los Medanos at Siskiyous on Friday.

And Castillo believes the team will continue to improve.

“They definitely have more in them,” he said. “They just don’t know it yet.”

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