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Cashin’ in on karma

Fans of high school girls volleyball from coast to coast have probably never had it so good as those of the area’s three programs.

These lucky folks have had front-row seats to multiple league championships, including a run of 19-straight by Forest Lake Christian which started way back in the early 1980s.

They’ve seen local teams exert their dominance on the volleyball court to the tune of 14 Sac-Joaquin Section finals appearances with four titles in four different divisions as well as a pair of state runners up in Bear River during the 1991 season and Nevada Union this year.



That said, it was only a matter of time before a product of said system rode the tidal wave of all of that mojo into the big-time of California high school sports.

Enter: Diane Pascua.




The 1995 graduate of Bear River High School and current head coach of Solana Beach’s Santa Fe Christian girls volleyball team was on the sideline as her squad won the CIF State Division V crown a little over a month ago.

Pascua said the win was a culmination of three years of hard work by both coach and players.

Santa Fe Christian had never so much as won a league title in the years before Pascua took the helm, but has taken off since.

The program has won at least a share if three straight league titles, two straight San Diego Section D-V and CIF SoCal State Tournament crowns.

“I just can’t put into words what remarkable year it was,” said Pascua, whose team came up short in last year’s state final. “Last year I think we were just happy to be there. The kids really didn’t know what it took as far as mental preparation. They just didn’t have the experience.”

Experience at the highest level of high school athletics is nothing new for Pascua.

A veteran of three state finals appearances – the first as a freshman on the aforementioned Bruin’s 1991 volleyball team, and twice more on the basketball team during her sophomore and junior years – Pascua gave a lot of credit to her high school coaches, Tim Smith and Terry Stafford for volleyball, and Duwaine Ganskie in basketball, in helping her understand how to get the most out her athletes.

“Tim Smith was (also) my coach at Magnolia (Intermediate School) and he was the one who convinced me to keep playing volleyball,” Pascua said. “What really impressed me about him was his passion for the game. He just loved to coach and (it showed.)”

“Ganskie had the ability to be personable as well as very intense,” she added. “He expects the best all of the time. he wouldn’t accept anything less.”

As for her coaching style, Pascua uses more carrot than stick.

“The relationship I have with my players is professional, yet personal,” she said. “I try to give as much positive reinforcement as possible, especially when things are going bad out there.”

Santa Fe Christian athletic director Russ Bouche knows his school hit the jackpot when the former Gonzaga University standout signed on three years ago.

“We needed someone to come in here and turn our program around. Diane played Division I volleyball and she was also a successful club-level coach,” he said. “The kids respect her. We were very fortunate to (get a coach of her abilities).”


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