After being knocked out of championship contention by Valencia High School, the girls’ volleyball team finished third at the So Cal Summer Challenge at Thousand Oaks High School when it defeated the Thousand Oaks Lancers Aug. 9. The team hopes to win league as it did last year and improve upon last year’s run to the CIF finals, which ended in a loss to La Salle High School.
“We come in to practice everyday with an all-in mentality,” outside hitter Rachel Savage ’15 said. “We never take a play off, even in practice, because we can’t when we [are playing games]. The fact that our league is so tough this year makes us want to win it even more. We’re focused, and we make sure we support each other on and off the court.”
The team has been practicing Monday through Friday since July 28, and it has played in three tournaments, the So Cal Summer Challenge at Thousand Oaks as well as a tournament at Oxnard High School, in which the girls placed eighth, and a tournament at Redondo Beach High School.
“We’re just spending a lot of time together as a team and trying to build strong relationships,” middle blocker Kayla Dillard ’15 said. “How well you know and trust your teammates really translates onto the court.”
With the replacement of Alemany, Louisville and Chaminade by Marymount and Marlborough, whom the team views as tougher opponents, in the Mission League, the team believes that it will have to play harder to win league.
“Every year we emphasize the importance of learning and getting better,” head coach Adam Black said. “We ask our athletes to stretch themselves by reaching beyond their current abilities [to] improve.”
To increase their strength and playing ability, the girls have been lifting twice per week with strength and conditioning coach Marcin Jagoda.
“I think I can speak on behalf of the team [when I say] that we are all pumped for league games,” Savage said. “Every single match is going to be exciting, so we can’t take any teams for granted or take any games off. Anyone can win [league] this year.”
To improve team chemistry and promote bonding in preparation for the upcoming season, the girls did karaoke as a team.
“This group of girls is very driven and focused,” Dillard said of the team’s work ethic. “We know how important it is not to take a single play off. Another key component to our success will be how well we can support each other and play as a cohesive unit when we get into tough situations.”
The team is in the midst of its first tournament, the Molten Classic, a five game tournament which started Sept. 1 and will run through Sept. 9. The girls’ goal is to play their hardest in every game and to work as a team.
“Marymount and Notre Dame have historically been our biggest rivals, so those are definitely the games to come to,” Savage said. “Besides those two, playing Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy as well as Oaks Christian at Homecoming will be exciting.”
When asked what the volleyball team’s hopes are for this season, Dillard said that the team decided that since they are in a new and more challenging league this year, their goal is to remain a threat throughout the season and to end up winning league.
“[We want to advance] as far as we can in the CIF playoffs,” Dillard said. “Making it to state is always in our plans.”