Three of the seven women's volleyball coaches in the Orange Empire Conference are new this season, but the favorite to win the title is a familiar name.
Once again, Coach Al Gasparian and his Golden West Rustlers are the pick to win the conference, which opens play Wednesday.
Golden West has won two state titles (1984 and '88) and six conference titles in Gasparian's seven seasons. His teams have won 42 consecutive conference matches, last losing in 1986 when the Rustlers were a member of the South Coast Conference.
And the news about this year's Golden West team isn't good news for the rest of the conference coaches.
"Potentially, we're as good as we've ever been," Gasparian said. "But with 10 freshmen, we are young and that could make a difference."
Golden West is led by two returning sophomores and two outstanding freshmen.
Sophomore Joli Eberhart (Mater Dei High School) is the team captain and was an all-Southern California player last season. Stacia Allen, a sophomore setter from Foothill, has improved more in a year than any player he has had, according to Gasparian.
The standout freshmen are Brenda Irby and Kysha Green. Irby is from Clark High School in Las Vegas, where she was an All-American as a junior. An ankle injury slowed her last season.
Green is from Long Beach Wilson and went to Oregon, where she was academically ineligible last season.
Wednesday's schedule has Fullerton at Golden West and Orange Coast at Saddleback, both at 7 p.m., and Rancho Santiago at Cypress at 5:30 p.m.
Other returning coaches are Ken Rubino at Cypress, Jane Hilgendorf at Orange Coast and Fran Cummings at Saddleback. The first-year coaches are Debbie Bush at Riverside, Kip Yoshimura at Rancho Santiago and Paula Tezak at Fullerton.
Surprisingly, El Camino's 51-47 victory over Rancho Santiago Saturday didn't set a single Mission Conference record.
El Camino's 637 yards in total offense (319 rushing, 318 passing) was 14 short of the total Mt. San Antonio accumulated against Palomar in 1988.
El Camino had 30 first downs (14 passing, 14 rushing, two by penalties); Orange Coast had 32 in a 1987 victory over Rancho Santiago. The 98 total points was eight shy of Palomar's 62-44 victory over San Bernardino Valley in 1973.
"I'm sure from a spectator's point of view, it was a delight," Rancho Santiago Coach Dave Ogas said. "It was the kind of game that would have been great if I was in the stands with a hot dog and a Coke. But as the losing coach, it wasn't so enjoyable."
Rancho Santiago running back Estrus Crayton had 366 all-purpose yards but also accounted for 70 yards in penalties called on El Camino for infractions on plays in which he was involved.
El Camino was called for three 15-yard personal fouls when Crayton had the ball and one facemasking penalty when Crayton was the intended receiver.
El Camino also sent two kickoffs out of bounds, trying to avoid Crayton and accounting for the other 10 yards in penalties.
"He's just a great package," Ogas said of Crayton. "He's a great kid with tremendous talent. Players like him come along about once in a lifetime, so we hope we really appreciate him."
It is a little early for any serious recruiting talk, but USC, UCLA, Tennessee and Louisiana State are among the many colleges that told Ogas they plan to take a look at Crayton.
When the Cypress men's soccer team defeated Irvine Valley, 2-1, on Friday to improve the Chargers' record to 4-2-1, it matched last season's victory total.
Fred Leininger, the first-year coach, also has Cypress 2-0 in conference and tied for first place with Rancho Santiago.
Cypress is led on offense by George Charlesworth, who scored both goals in the victory over Irvine Valley. He also had three goals and an assist in the conference-opening 6-3 victory over San Bernardino Valley earlier last week. Charlesworth has eight goals in seven games.
The weekend started with 14 football teams in Southern California unbeaten or untied, but only six remained so, led by Bakersfield (3-0), the top-ranked team in the Southland Poll.
El Camino (4-0) is second, Fullerton (3-0) third, Moorpark (3-0) fourth, Golden West (3-0) fifth, Rancho Santiago (2-1) sixth, Cerritos (3-1) seventh, Riverside (2-1) eighth, Pasadena (3-1) ninth and Mt. San Jacinto (3-0) 10th. West Los Angeles (3-0) is the only undefeated and untied team not in the poll.