Redwood extends their regular season win streak which dates back to the 2019 season
VISALIA – It’s been nearly four years since the Redwood Rangers lost a game in the regular season. They went 37-0 in the 2019 regular season and are now 14-0 following last year’s canceled season.
As one of the Central Valley’s oldest and most accomplished coaches, it isn’t uncommon for a team led by Redwood’s Alana Montgomery to be one of the best squads in the area. With over four decades of coaching under her belt, she considered retirement but felt unfinished after her team did not get to compete in 2020. This year she is back and has once again helped lead the team to a superb undefeated start to the season, despite dealing with the unfamiliar territory of the ongoing pandemic.
The Rangers defeated Kingsburg in five sets on Aug. 17 with just seven active players before being forced to quarantine for two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols of the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD). The team hasn’t missed a beat and came back to win their next 13 games, losing just one set during that span.
Out of nearly 1300 schools that are ranked throughout California, MaxPreps has Redwood ranked 89th and could have been higher if they didn’t have to cancel two weeks worth of games. They are picking up where they left in 2019 which didn’t end as planned. Despite an undefeated regular season, the Rangers fell in the semifinals of the Division II Valley playoffs and the opening round of the Southern California Regional playoffs. This year’s squad is playing in honor of last year’s seniors who didn’t get a chance at redemption.
“They saw the disappointment last year in the seniors who didn’t get to have a season,” Montgomery said. “So they were trying to do everything they could to come back and hopefully get back to where we were before we had to quarantine.”
Four of this year’s seniors were sophomores on the 2019 squad, including Elise Hyde who currently ranks in the top eight for blocks in the CIF central section. She is one half of the two sets of sisters on the squad, who are all starters. Her younger sister is Audrey Hyde who currently ranks in the top 12 for assists in the central section. The other set of sisters is junior Morgan Castaneda, who ranks in the top 30 in the state in hitting percentage and top 15 in the central section for kills, plus sophomore Devyn Castaneda who ranks in the top eight in the central section in digs.
The team competed in the Visalia Invitational this past weekend and finished first after sweeping all seven opponents. On Saturday they swept Tulare Western, a rematch of their Thursday battle with the same outcome. The matchup against the Mustangs is always a fun one for Montgomery as the team is coached by one of her former players, Laura Brinkman who took over the team in 2015. Montgomery has yet to lose to her protégé, donning a perfect 8-0 record, but the matchup always adds an extra layer of competition.
“Every time we play each other it’s pretty special…she’s very special to me,” Montgomery said. “It’s exciting to see a great former player continue on and become a coach. She has taken the Tulare Western team to a new level.”
Redwood will begin league play tonight at home against Lemoore at 6:30 p.m. as the Rangers look to defend their West Yosemite League (WYL) title. The team has won the WYL in four of seven seasons under Montgomery.