When juniors Mackenzie Albrecht and Delaney Swanson were freshmen, they got an early taste of being champions as the Sonoma Valley High School varsity volleyball girls, under the direction of head coach Mindy Neves, claimed a share of the 2011 Sonoma County League crown and they both earned all-league.

Then last year the Lady Dragons won the SCL title outright as Albrecht was the league’s player of the year and Swanson became a two-time all-league


This year, Neves and her two-time defending champion Sonoma spikers – led by Albrecht, Swanson and returning all-leaguers senior Gianna Monterosso and juniors Anastasia Claros and Ciara Smith – are on a quest for an SCL title three-peat, which begins this Thursday, Sept. 19, when they host longtime rival El Molino.

The SCL opener in Pfeiffer Gym is 6:30 p.m., preceded by the freshman at 4, and the junior varsity at 5.

Comprising Sonoma’s two-time SCL-champion varsity team – directed by head coach Mindy Neves and assistant coaches Michele Foster and Heidi Boatright – are Albrecht, Claros, Monterosso, Smith and Swanson; seniors Janeth Silva, Kaitlyn Boldt and Kayten Mak; juniors Hannah Herrick and Cheyenne McCambridge; sophomores Carlie Vollert and Sami Von Gober; and freshmen Jenna Mak and Kiara Miles.

The Sonoma varsity spikers played nonleague Justin-Siena in Pfeiffer Gym last Thursday and swept the match 25-16, 25-8, 25-15 behind Albrecht’s 25 assists, seven digs and one solo block; Swanson’s 12 kills, six digs, three serving aces and one solo block; Monterosso’s seven digs and three aces; freshman Kiara Miles’ seven kills; senior Kayten Mak’s six digs and two aces; senior Kaitlyn Boldt’s six digs; Smith’s three kills and three solo blocks; junior Hannah Herrick’s three kills and one solo block; and Claros’ three digs.

Sonoma competed in the Albany Tournament on Saturday and captured four straight wins to reach the semifinals, where they were upended 16-25, 19-25 by eventual tourney champion and perennial North Bay power Redwood.

The Lady Dragons’ tourney victories were over Mercy 25-20, 25-20; Miramonte 25-16, 25-19; Head Royce 25-17, 23-25, 15-13; and Drake 25-19, 25-20.

Sonoma’s volleyball program will hold its annual varsity Greg Paganini Invitational Tournament, which benefits the Greg Paganini Scholarship Fund and features a highly competitive 16-team field, on Saturday, Sept. 21, in Pfeiffer Gym.

The Lady Dragons’ inaugural 16-team Paganini junior varsity tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, and anyone interested in sponsoring the tourneys to help cover expenses and provide scholarships through the Paganini Scholarship Fund can email sonomavalleyball@gmail.com.