A new system and a roster loaded with newcomers means the Moorpark College women's volleyball team is still waiting to come together.
Although the patient Raiders (6-6) are counting on the opening of divisional play this week to focus its play.
"We've lost a lot of close games, which is too bad," said Moorpark coach Steve Burkhart. "We're pretty solid. We've just lost a few five-game matches against some really good teams."
The Raiders had three match points in their five-game loss Sept. 23 at Irvine Valley, then ranked No. 3 in the state. They also dropped a five-game match to defending Western State Conference North Division champion Santa Barbara City at an early season tournament.
"Just kind of snake bit, but that's the sign of a team that hasn't had time to gel," said Burkhart. "We're focused on the conference schedule."
A pair of talented freshmen setters, Jessica Soprano (Buena) and Taylor Fredrick (Moorpark), has enabled Burkhart to go to a two-setter system.
"It maximizes our ability to have three hitters on the front row at all times," said Burkhart.
Moorpark's returners include middle blocker Chelcy Westphal, libero Erica Smith, outside hitter Morgan Vreeland and right side Breanne Metcalf.
Middle blocker Carissa Flack, a freshman from Newbury Park, leads the WSC in block assists (53) and is No. 4 in hitting percentage (.318). Outside hitter Shannon Pearson, a Thousand Oaks High product who transferred from Colgate, has also been a key newcomer.
Having opened WSC North play Tuesday with a three-game sweep of Oxnard, Moorpark visits Ventura tonight in search of its sixth-straight win in the cross-county rivalry dating back to Oct. 2007.
"We're not taking anything for granted, that's for sure," said Burkhart. "Nothing would make them happier than beating us."