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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Victoria Reigns Over Hueneme Turnaround

May 23, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH | From Staff Reports

Whether or not Hueneme High pulls off an upset today against Thousand Oaks, this much is certain: the Vikings have been transformed by second-year Coach Nichole Victoria.

For the second consecutive year, Victoria has guided the Vikings to a Southern Section Division II second-round playoff game.

That's quite a feat, considering Hueneme hadn't qualified for the playoffs in more than decade before Victoria took over.

It's an understatement that Victoria has been a major coup for the Oxnard school's athletic program.

"She's put it back together, believe me," said Jim Lane, athletic director.

The Vikings (18-7), former Channel League members who were 7-12 and 7-13 in the two seasons before Victoria was hired, also found more winning-friendly competition when they joined the newly formed Pacific View League last season.

Still, it didn't take long for the Vikings to adopt Victoria's all-or-nothing attitude.

"The girls have improved so much from last year," Victoria said. "Not only have my expectations gone up, but their expectations of themselves and each other have gone up.

"I don't expect anything less than the best they can possibly do."

Victoria, a Camarillo graduate and former UCLA star, has always gotten favorable results from her high school teams.

She led Camarillo to the Division I championship game in 1996 in her only season as coach and was chosen The Times' Ventura County coach of the year.

Victoria played at UCLA from 1991-94 and was an assistant coach at Oregon State in 1997.

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It's not how you start, but how you finish that matters most.

Just ask the Monroe softball team.

The Vikings (9-11) won only one of their first six games.

But today Monroe will play Washington for the City Invitational title at UCLA at 2 p.m.

The last time Monroe played in this division was in 1994, when the Vikings won the 3-A title.

Monroe played in the 4-A Division in the five seasons following its 3-A title.

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Small-school teams from the region are dominating in the playoffs.

Nine of 11 region teams won first-round Division V and VI games Friday.

The two losses were to other area teams.

In Division V, top-seeded La Reina, Paraclete, Village Christian and St. Bonaventure outscored first-round opponents, 49-5.

In Division VI, Faith Baptist, Cornerstone Christian, Montclair Prep, Santa Clarita Christian and Grace Brethren outscored opponents, 54-10.

That's a 44-run difference in each division.

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