June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

After winning first league title, top-seeded Godinez opens CIF volleyball playoffs

Godinez volleyball players with coach Jenevieve Nixon. (Photo courtesy Godinez Athletics).

After capturing the Golden West League title, the first in school history, Godinez High School’s boys volleyball team is setting its sights on a CIF title.

The Grizzlies are seeded No. 1 in CIF Division 5 and open the playoffs on Thursday at home at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Hawthorne vs. Jordan wild card match.

“I have eight returning players from last season,” said Godinez Coach Jenevieve Nixon.

Godinez finished second in league last year and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CIF playoffs. But the team has experience this year after losing just one starter from last season.

The league title this year is the first in school history for either boys or girls, according to Athletic Director Bill Snyder. Last year’s CIF Division 6 playoff win was the first in school history for the boys, he added.

“This team was determined to get back and finish where we left off,” Nixon said. “Their team goal this year was to go undefeated in league. We started working hard in the gym back in September. We entered an off-season boys tournament, played very competitive teams from D3 and D4 schools and ended up making it to the championship but losing to D3 Sunny Hills. It was then that I saw the hunger and determination in their faces. 

“So I knew I needed to make sure that their mental game was going to be just as strong as their physical game. I told the boys at the beginning of our preseason that our skills were not going to be what pushes us past our competitors, that it was going to be our mental strength and team chemistry. And they bought in to my plan and what we were going to need to do outside of the court. They came up with their team goals focused around working together, trusting in each other and having fun. They are still just as focused as they were at the start of the season.

“Almost such where they haven’t really stopped to enjoy the fact that we are the first boys volleyball team at Godinez to be league champions. We clinched that in our match against Ocean View still having two more matches in league but it didn’t seem to really phase them because they were still hungry to go up against our rival school, Segerstrom and of course our nemesis team, (Garden) Grove, for those last two matches. We truly have been extremely conscious about making sure to stay healthy all season long.”

A number of players have stood out for the Grizzlies. 

“Our starting setter, junior Thomas Tran has played in every single set of every match this season and is averaging 25 assists, 1.7 blocks and 2.3 kills per match,” Nixon said.

“He is our co-captain and leader of this team. Our senior middles, Isaac Melchor, and Ma’Gen Young Gonzalez have so much more confidence in their game this season compared to last season they are unstoppable on the defensive and offensive end. They are both averaging three to four blocks and six to seven kills per match.

“Our starting outsides, juniors Benjamin Nixon (coach Nixon’s son) averaging 5.9 kills, 10 digs with a serve receive rating of 2.26 per match and Angelo Nieto averaging 11 kills, 1.8 blocks and 11 digs per match are our most reliable hitters and defenders on the team.

“Our other co-captain, senior Alejandro Lopez is our motivating spark of energy that helps to keep our boys focused and energized. And our returning libero, junior Misael Quezada is our hustle never quit back row force that believes he can defend and touch every ball in the back row.”

Nixon said it’s been a satisfying season so far. 

“As a coach, it is such a great feeling when you have a team that truly believes they can beat any team they go up against,” she said. “Then my job as a coach becomes easier, because then I can just coach the game. This team has the heart of a lion and the fight of a grizzly and it is truly inspiring.”

Send volleyball news to timburt@ocsportszone.com