Valeria Martinez showed off her versatility in 2013.
The junior led the UC Merced women’s volleyball team in kills the first two years of the program’s existence, but head coach Allen McCreary needed more from her this season.
Injuries and inconsistency from teammates forced McCreary to put the steady Martinez in a variety of roles. It hurt her kill numbers a bit, but the outside hitter still managed to lead the Bobcats in kills (189), digs (305) and aces (35).
The California Pacific Conference took note.
Martinez was the only Bobcat named to the Cal Pac first team. It’s the third time the Cal Pac has honored her and the second time she’s been named to the first team.
“She’s just a great kid who does whatever is asked of her,” McCreary said. “We asked a lot of her this season. She’s the kid that when someone wasn’t doing their job, we’d ask her to go do it for them.”
Martinez was one of seven UCM volleyball players to be recognized.
Despite an injury that robbed her of the last month of the season, setter Genna Garrett (team-high 527 assists) was named to the second team along with junior college transfer Kuuipolani Braceros (157 kills).
McKenzie Willett, Jade Garrett, Patricia Schellentrager and Mia Jauregui were all honorable mentions.
Cody Golbad called his first collegiate season an eye-opening experience.
Calls that used to be routinely made while he starred at Golden Valley High were no longer considered by referees in UC Merced’s inaugural men’s soccer season.
But the freshman striker adjusted to the physicality. He led the Bobcats with nine goals and four assists, tying for fifth in the league. For his efforts, Golbad was named Cal Pac Freshman of the Year. He also earned second-team honors.
He was joined on the second team by goalkeeper Heriberto Diaz, whose 74 saves ranked fifth in the conference.
The UCM women’s team also placed two players on the second team.
Claudia Diaz (12 goals) led the Bobcats in scoring for the second straight season, while freshman midfielder Daisy Bonilla (five goals, seven assists) carved out a role as the team’s play maker.
Sophia Rios earned a spot on the Cal Pac first team for the second straight season with a fourth-place finish at the Cal Pac Championships.
Rios placed third in the race as a freshman, but this year’s race was a much deeper group. She’ll now prepare for Saturday’s NAIA National Championship meet in Lawrence, Kan.
Rios will be joined by fellow Bobcat Daniel Pena, who also made the first team with a fourth-place finish in the men’s race. Pena moved up five spots from his 2012 Cal Pac Championships finish.
Staff writer Sean Lynch can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.