Friday can't come soon enough for the Rio Hondo College women's beach volleyball team. The Roadrunners' wait will finally end when the squad hits the sand for the first time to open the 2018 season with a pair of matches at the Ventura Marina.
Rio Hondo will take on host Ventura and will also face Santa Barbara City College, starting at 9 a.m.
Head coach Teddi Esko returns for her fifth season leading a program that will be officially competing in its third year of California Community College Athletic Association sanctioned play. But since Rio Hondo opened the 2016 season as a pioneer squad in the first official CCCAA season, the sport continues to explode as colleges add programs.
Rio Hondo will once again compete in the South Coast Conference and has lined up another tough regular-season schedule that should prepare the Roadrunners for the postseason.
Esko opens the season with 14 women on her roster with just four returning from last year's squad. She will look to captain Natalie Magallon, Sara Harding, Madelyn Gastelum, and Bree Newton to provide leadership to a freshmen-heavy squad.
Making the transition from the gym to the sand for the first time this season are Michelle Rosas, Michelle Hawkins, Michell Chavez-Valdivia, Stephanie Garcia, Mia Ponce, and Felipa Moreno.
A familiar face to Rio Hondo also returns to make her beach debut. Andrea Velasco was an all-conference selection for the Roadrunners in 2013 and 2014 before transferring to Mercy College in New York. She played two seasons at Mercy and is now back home. She will also serve as team captain for Esko.
Newcomers to the Rio Hondo volleyball program include Monica Campos, Denyse Perez, and Madison Mader.
Mader, along with Morena, both competed for the Rio Hondo College women's soccer team. Mader was named the SCC's offensive and defensive player of the year during her two seasons with the soccer squad.
"The team has been training hard since Jan. 15," said Esko. "We're excited to compete next in Ventura and are looking forward to a great season."