Ron Beick must be wondering why he spent all those years laboring in the big City.
Sure, four seasons of coaching at University High, a City Section school, brought four consecutive 4-A playoff appearances. In terms of the big payoff, however, the time spent went for naught. All University ever brought home was four runner-up trophies.
Last year, Beick--rhymes with spike--moved to the suburbs of Thousand Oaks, to a Southern Section school that was clearly in need of assistance. In 1985, Thousand Oaks was 1-11.
By bringing in Beick--call him the ultimate outside hitter--the Lancer program leaped to the top of the charts. By November of '86, Thousand Oaks had won the Southern Section 2-A girls championship, defeating Atascadero in a five-game, come-from-behind thriller.
It has to reason, then, that the bespectacled Beick must view this Southern Section stuff as pretty easy. After all, the guy lands a new coaching job, smoothes out the bumps, resets a few sets, and the team jumps out of the blocks, right?
Hardly. Last year, Thousand Oaks started 0-3 in Marmonte League play, and Beick admits it was an uphill battle the rest of the way. And even though the Lancers are the defending champions and ranked No. 1 in a preseason 2-A coaches' poll, he says the team can't afford a sluggish start again this season, or it might be buried before the playoffs ever roll around.
"Just look at the rankings," Beick said.
In the Marmonte League alone, Thousand Oaks (No. 1), Westlake (No. 4) and Simi Valley (No. 6) cracked the top 10.
Beick's ride could be a little rougher this year.
"Those polls are mainly based on last year's results," he said. "Newbury Park and Royal will be as tough as anybody in the league. By the end of the year, you should see them in there."
Tuesday's Marmonte League openers support Beick's assessment. Royal defeated Westlake and Newbury downed Simi Valley.
To get past Thousand Oaks, however, Marmonte opponents will have to deal with the likes of All-Southern Section hitter Julie Chellevold, who had 27 kills in the final against Atascadero last year. Chellevold, a senior, is just 5-8 but has a 25-inch vertical leap. Sophomore Amy Chellevold, Julie's sister, returns at setter and will try to offset the loss of Beth Welch, who is now starting as a freshman at Washington State.
In the middle, the Lancers are formidable with 6-2 Kristen Cleary and 5-11 Shireen Campbell as blockers. Campbell was also a key in the championship win. Julie Heggen, Erin Swink and Shauna Campbell, Shireen's sister, also should start.
"I think offensively, we are very strong," Beick said. "We serve very well and have good height. Our only weakness right now is our passing, but all in all, we're very solid."
If Thousand Oaks can skirt trouble in league play, the team should again contend for the 2-A title--even though Beick would prefer to keep his eyes on the goal at hand.
"The CIF is more competitive, has better athletes and is much more structured than the City," Beick said. "In the City, there were only two or three teams each year that had a shot at the championship. Now there are lots of good teams out there. I just want to get through the league first."
OTHER TEAMS TO WATCH
ROYAL: The Highlanders feature setter Julie Dahlberg and middle blocker Suzy Koonter. Royal could be a tough test for Thousand Oaks and the rest of the 2-A Division if the Highlanders' three-game blowout of Westlake this week is any indication.
NEWBURY PARK: The Panthers are solid in several areas. Middle blocker Marlo Cormier, setter Shannon Mutch and hitter Camille Mitchell form the nucleus of a contending team in Marmonte League play and the 2-A playoffs.
CANYON: The Cowboys have won the Golden League the past three seasons and have advanced to the 3-A quarterfinals each of those years. This season, however, the team has only one returning player, setter Debbie Phillips. Lisa Mosier, a transfer from Village Christian, will start at outside hitter. Canyon, which has won 30 straight league matches, is ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll.
AGOURA: The Chargers are as experienced and talented as any team in the 3-A Division. Seven of their top nine players return. Senior setter Dawn Krenik, an All-Southern Section soccer player, is the team leader. Dorothy Brown (setter), Shannon Mathew (middle blocker), and Wendy Bennett (middle blocker) are all seniors and three-year starters, as is Krenik. Mathew, who is 6-3, has a 24-inch vertical leap. Outside hitters Amy Ward and Tristi Heuer also return from last season. Agoura has its work cut out--the Frontier League produced state 3-A champion Nordhoff and runner-up Calabasas last year. Last season, Calabasas defeated Agoura in a playoff for the second Frontier playoff spot--this year, three teams will advance.