This year, three of the school’s fall sports teams suffered serious losses. Volleyball, field hockey and cross country lost a significant amount of players who either graduated or sustained injuries. Rather than let their losses bog them down, however, all three teams have stepped up their playing and taken advantage of the year to rebuild and grow.
After going to CCS last year, the volleyball team’s entire starting line-up graduated, leaving the team with a lot to live up to and many spots to fill.
“We have a very young team this year,” team co-captain senior Alyssa Biondi said. “We have to work harder than we did last year.”
The only players to return this year besides Alyssa were juniors Erica Best, Allison Hampel, Jenny Love, sophomore Rachel Nelson and senior Danika Kehlet, who is out for the season due to injury. All six had occasionally started last year, but none had “[their] starting spot every game.”
Despite these losses, the team has been able to recover with the help of many new members. According to co-captain Jenny Love, the team has found several strong juniors and sophomores, leading to an almost entirely junior and sophomore starting line-up.
“A lot of girls play club, which is a good way to stay with volleyball all year,” Alyssa said.
Additionally, the team also has a new coach: recent Santa Clara University graduate and former club volleyball player Jason Kennedy. As a new coach, Kennedy is able to help the team “start fresh,” with no biases about previous starters.”
“The team has a lot of potential,” Kennedy said. “They can be as good as they want … It’s not as if we’re missing a very critical piece.”
The one problem the team has faced, however, is lack of experience.
“We just need to … learn how to put together a full match,” Kennedy said. “[But] all the girls contribute to making the team a success.”
Lack of experience not withstanding, the team hopes to do well.
“We have a lot of potential, even though we are a young team,” Alyssa said.
The team’s record is currently 0-6.
In addition to losing 13 players this year, including its starting line-up, the school field hockey team has moved up a division to the Mount Hamilton League.
“We’re trying all different positions right now,” team co-captain Erin Winner said. “It’s hard coping because we’re not used to it … but we’re getting by really well. We’re actually doing really well against these teams.”
With only seven team members returning, many former JV players have stepped up to play this year. According to Eric, all of the team’s new players are doing well, despite having to play tougher teams in the new division.
“We have such good individual skills and we get [along] so well on the field and off the field that you can really see it,” Erin said.
Erin and team coached Gerri Baldwin and Mary Donahue agree that, although the team hopes to make it to CCS, “it’s probably more of a rebuilding season.” Baldwin, who has been coaching the team since 1996, said the team has definitely been improving this year.
“They have really come together as a team,” Baldwin said.
Even with their losses, the team has a “pretty good chance” of placing fifth in their division, which will ensure a trip to CCS.
“I hear in the playoffs, anything can happens,” Donahue said.
As of press time, the team’s record was 1-4-1.
Although the Cross Country team lost four of its top boys and nine girls, the team is enjoying a successful season. After last year’s losses, head coach PattiSue Plumer and assistant coaches Pam Harris and Lauren Swigart were “really concerned” for the boys’ team. However, with the arrival of some “really talented freshmen” and many old runners stepping up, the season has not been the rebuilding year the coaches anticipated.
“The thing about cross country is that you get a lot of incoming freshman and sophomores,” boys captain senior Charlie Kokernak said. “It really balances itself out.”
According to Plumer, even with the team’s losses, it can still expect a return to CCS “if all run what they are capable of.”
Although the boys team has been enjoying success, the girls team, while still doing reasonably well, suffered many unexpected injuries that took out many of the team’s top runners. The team had only anticipated losing one senior, but two ACL injuries and two girls moving provided an “unexpected blow,” according to Plumer.
“We’re a young team who’s training hard and getting everyone in shape,” girls captain senior Brittany Westrum said.
Even though the team lacks “experience, depth and training,” they hope to work hard this year and use the opportunity to rebuild their varsity team.
“Hopefully, we’ll make it to CCS next year,” Brittany said.