Girls' basketball: Mater Dei is going to be crazy good
Last season Mater Dei won the CIF Division 2 state championship, finished with a record of 32-1 and was recognized as the No. 1 team in the nation by USA Today and Calhisports.
This year the Monarchs may be even better.
"We'll be a little bigger and more physical," said Coach Kevin Kiernan.
The team returns three players who made the U-17 national team that won a gold medal in France: seniors Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Alexyz Vaioletama and junior Jordan Adams.
The Monarchs also have powerful Cal State Northridge-bound senior Jessica Duarte and a 6-foot senior transfer, Kiki Alofaituli, who Kiernan said, "is really good."
Vaioletama, who missed last season because of stress fractures in both legs, was cleared to play on the national team over the summer, but during the team's last practice, she tweaked her shin. Her doctor sidelined her for another three months.
She's currently practicing every other day, and Kiernan said she should be ready to go full throttle when the season begins.
"She looks great," Kiernan said. "She's much stronger than she was. She lifted the whole year she was off."
Even though she's been through a lot, Kiernan said, she's in good spirits.
"She's a really sweet kid, and I hope she has some success this year," he said. "I don't throw the word 'sweet' around too often. It's not really in my vocabulary."