Another Miner heads to San Jose State |

Another Miner heads to San Jose State

Tosha Cooper said Oscar Crespo was only joking when he said maybe he ought to refer to his volleyball program as the San Jose State “Miners.”

But when Taylor Japhet, Cooper’s daughter, recently verbally committed to jump aboard Crespo’s rebuilding project with the Spartans, she became the third Nevada Union volleyball star to do so.

Last fall, NU seniors Sarah McAtee and Kylie Miraldi announced they would accept the same full-ride scholarship that Japhet has been offered. Japhet, with her senior year still ahead at Nevada Union, will join the fray in 2009.

“At first I didn’t want choose early, but I heard there’s a chance I could lose my recruiting spot – or they’ll start looking at other girls,” Japhet said. “But also, going into my senior year committed is helpful because it takes the stress away. I’ll be able to have fun and play volleyball.”

She hopes to be doing just that later this month in Dallas, where her Force 17-1 club volleyball team – which includes NU teammate Alexis Moser – competes in the Junior Olympics. A broken thumb, however, could keep her out of the action, as she said she wants to be fully healthy for her final high school season in the fall.

Japhet transferred from Roseville to Nevada Union this school year and fully believes the success of NU’s program – six straight section titles and three NorCal championships – helped coaches notice her skills.

“I definitely think my NU season helped,” Japhet said. “(Crespo) first saw me at the (Archbishop) Mitty tournament. When club (volleyball) comes along that’s when you usually get the most exposure, but I know (California State University) Monterey Bay first saw me at the state (championships).”

Among her favorite memories in the sport is the bus trip to the state finals match, where the Miners fell short of the state championship in a 3-1 loss to Lakewood. Despite the defeat, the excitement of stepping onto the state finals stage was a memorable experience, she said.

“On the bus ride to state, everybody was tense,” she said. “It was just the buildup to states.”

She knows things won’t look the same the next time she steps onto the court as a Miner, with five of her teammates graduating at Hooper Stadium today and with longtime coaches Bob Rogers and Larry Peterson retiring from the bench at the end of last season.

“It’s going to be different,” she said. “We’re not going to have the same outside (hitters), we’ll have a different setter and everything else.

“But we’ll eventually get there and come together as a team on the court.”

She also knows that NU’s current string of six section titles is a record, one that Nevada Union would have all to itself with a seventh consecutive crown.

“That would be nice if we could get the seventh,” she said.

Section title or not, Japhet is ready to return to the court without the weight of choosing which college to attend on her mind.

And she’s not the only one happy about that.

“It was very emotional when she accepted (her scholarship),” said Cooper said. “I knew a few years ago that she was going to achieve that. And when she met Oscar, we knew it was the right fit.”

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