Games start counting as VVAL begins volleyball play

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Petaluma and Casa Grande high school volleyball teams begin playing for real next week as the Vine Valley Athletic League season gets underway. Both the Trojans and Gauchos begin with high hopes.

Casa Grande was to start play Tuesday in Napa against a Vintage team expected to be one of the best in the league. Petaluma draws an opening-round bye while Sonoma Valley starts at Justin-Siena and Napa is at American Canyon.

Petaluma opens VVAL play Thursday at Napa, while Casa Grande continues its tough early league season by hosting defending champ Justin-Siena and American Canyon is at Sonoma Valley. Casa Grande battled for the league championship last season, finishing 8-4 behind Justin-Siena and Vintage.

Led by power hitters Avelina Fakalata and Simone Wright, the Gauchos have another strong team, but they have had a difficult time getting started, going 4-6 in pre-league play.

Petaluma was 4-8 in league and 6-15 overall during a tough 2018 season, but is vastly improved. Led by Lily Paschoal and sisters Emma and Kaleigh Weiand, the Trojans are off to a 9-1 start.

The Petaluma teams will have to be in top form in every match as they compete in what is expected to be a very competitive VVAL.

Justin-Siena lost several key players from last season’s championship team that was 19-6 overall and lost just one league match.

This season’s favorite is Vintage. The Crushers were second last year at 10-2 with an overall 17-9 record. Led by hitters Jullia Boder and Sarah Gauger, the Crushers are 6-3 heading into league play.

Another team to watch is Sonoma Valley. Paced by junior Katie Brenninger and senior Gianna Burton, the Dragons have impressive wins over Analy and Terra Linda and played well in a 3-2 loss to Cardinal Newman.

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