The varsity volleyball match between the Wilcox Chargers and Fremont Firebirds Friday night featured two teams in opposite situations. Seven of the 14 girls on Fremont’s roster are ninth and tenth graders. Wilcox meanwhile has 10 seniors out of 15 on their roster. That experience and depth were on display for the Chargers in what was a straight-sets victory, 25-9, 25-14, 25-16.
While seniors Clare Oudard and Sophie Ehret led the way for the Chargers offensively, it was the defense and depth that stood out most. Typically, in high school volleyball games, only two or three players stand out with impressive performances. On Friday ten different Chargers stood out in one way or another.
Weronika Pabis, Bianca Burke and Claire Sugrue each impressed with multiple kills from the outside. Perla Hernandez shined from her middle blocker spot in the front row, blocking and tipping down balls for points, while Dani Ramirez and Neda Salehi each picked up service aces. However, perhaps the most notable contributions were the defensive efforts from defensive specialist Jessica Sitton and setter Mia Perez Smith.
Along with picking up a pair of service aces, Sitton did not miss a single ball that was hit her way. Her first pass allowed everything to flow for Wilcox. The Chargers did not give away any freebies in that opening frame. In the third set, Smith stood out with an impressive dig and then showed extremely quick hand-eye coordination on an awkward sequence. With her back to the net, Smith quickly saved a teammate’s awkward touch from just two feet away, knocking it back up high enough so said teammate could deliver a third hit over the net.
“We’ve done a lot of fast-speed, agility training with her,” chimed Wilcox Head Coach April Lujan on Smith’s instinctual ability on the court. “She’s all over the place making plays. For her, because it feels good to get a dig as much as it is to get a good set, now she’s kind of addicted to it.”
As of right now, the Wilcox team is seemingly addicted to winning. The Chargers have won four straight and haven’t dropped a single set. The plethora of contributing players isn’t lost on the team’s star players as a key reason for their early success (8-5 overall, 2-0 in league).
“Our program is very well rounded. We don’t just focus on one thing, or one person is good at one thing when we do drills. Everyone has to do the same drills,” remarked Oudard. “It’s not like just the [liberos] have to do passing, everybody has to do it.”
“I love that about our team, it’s not just one person doing all the plays or carrying the team,” added Ehret. “Everyone is putting in effort, getting kills, getting digs.”
Fremont (4-8 overall, 0-2 in league) on the other hand is looking to dig themselves out of a bit of a hole to start the season. Junior captain Avery Fanslow stood out with a couple of well-placed kills and a nice block from her middle blocker spot. Defensively, sophomore Noa Halevy had the most impressive dig when she dove and saved a would-be ace that tipped over the net.
Fremont will look to bounce back Wednesday, Sept. 21 when they take on Santa Clara. Wilcox will look to win their fifth straight on Tuesday, Sept. 20 when they host Homestead.