Last season was a transitional year for the Wilcox volleyball team. The 2017 varsity squad featured a handful of younger players developing into bigger roles for the first time. While their 2-10 league record last year was a step back from their 6-6 mark in 2016, the team is confident that a bounce-back season is around the corner.
“We have a few newcomers this year from JV, but they were leaders on JV, they have a lot of experience. Overall everyone on this team is used to the pressure,” said senior captain and four-year varsity player Isha Gokhale. “Last year we had lost a number of great seniors from the year before, but this team is very experienced.”
“This year they are already doing way more advanced drills then I have done in many, many years,” remarked Head Coach April Lujan, who enters her sixth season in charge of the varsity program. “They all work hard, I have 16 girls who all know how to play volleyball. That’s a big difference from last year. This year we are a little bit more volleyball savvy.”
Gokhale will start the season sharing captaincy duties with junior Deena Pederson. The two outside hitters were voted as captains by their teammates.
“It’s a great honor, but we have to maintain it,” acknowledged Pederson. “We have to continue to do our jobs or that will be taken away.”
“It makes me really happy that the other girls trust me enough to lead the team,” added Gokhale. “It is a lot of added pressure, you are held responsible to carry the team in addition to yourself. It’s hard, but I’m really happy they trust me to do it.”
The duo will be tasked with coming up with big kills on a regular basis. Assisting them will be senior setter Laura Wong and junior setter Elise Corwin. Coach Lujan spoke at length when asked about Corwin’s development in such a key role as a distributor.
“Elise is a point guard in basketball, so she’s a natural leader,” said Coach Lujan. “She knows how to run plays and is super smart. She’s really picked up the position of setter and ran with it. She’s super competitive and doesn’t like to lose. I don’t want to overwhelm her, but little by little I ask her ‘ok in this situation, why would we do this?’ and she’s starting to see it now. This season I’m going to be putting her in some more high level situations.”
The Chargers will start their season with four non-league matches, the first of which is set for Aug. 23 against Monta Vista. They will open their league season on the road with a rivalry match against the Santa Clara Bruins on Sept. 6.