Nicola coaches Escondido Adventist to volleyball playoff
Last updated 5/29/2008 at Noon
The trip from Dan Nicola’s Fallbrook home to Escondido Adventist Academy is 28 miles each way. When he’s not teaching third and fourth grade at the school, he coaches the high school boys volleyball team. His trips were rewarded this year with the team’s trip to the CIF Division IV playoffs.
“We just put our volleyball program together a couple of years ago, so we’re really proud of where we are today,” Nicola said.
The Hawks finished the regular season with a 14-5 record, including a 7-3 statistic in Coastal League play which tied for second with Santa Fe Christian.
Santa Fe Christian defeated Escondido Adventist in both league matches this season. The Eagles were seeded fourth for the playoffs while the Hawks were given the fifth seed. After a first-round bye for both teams Santa Fe Christian ended Escondido Adventist’s season with a 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25-22 win in the Division IV quarterfinals May 14. “Proved the seeding committee right, I guess,” Nicola said.
Nicola isn’t the only member of the Escondido Adventist volleyball team who made the trip from Fallbrook to Escondido. Gene Popko, a former high school volleyball coach in the CIF Southern Section, agreed to be Nicola’s assistant coach. “I would like to give Gene his due, because he’s really the technician of the team,” Nicola said.
Starting setter Michael Cozad lives in Bonsall. Cozad ranked among the top five in the county in assists. “He had a phenomenal year,” Nicola said.
Nicola was also the coach of Escondido Adventist in 2007, when the Hawks had a 6-6 overall record and did not earn an invitation to the CIF playoffs.
Escondido Adventist, which has approximately 100 students, was not affiliated with a league until last year. “We just decided we needed to make the step up in order to get the commitment from the guys to work hard,” Nicola said. “It paid off.”