By Caelen McQuilkin
Sep 29, 2017
Over this Labor Day weekend, Lee Vining High School’s Junior Varsity and Varsity volleyball teams competed at the Trona Tournament for their first and second games of the year. Both teams did amazingly well, with Junior Varsity getting 6th place and Varsity winning 3rd place overall. Nine teams from all over eastern California competed in the tournament, enduring 5 games in the 118˚ weather in Trona. But the girls pushed through the challenges and played their hearts out, bonding as a team and improving as players.
The varsity team started off strong, beating Las Vegas Liberty Baptist with two matches. On that good momentum, the Tigers faced off a few other teams, winning all their games and coming in first for the first bracket of the tournament. In the second bracket, the team started out strong but ended up losing to Immanuel Christian in a tough game. With the defeat came some loss of heart, because the loss meant that the varsity team was out of the running for first place overall.
However, the Tigers still had a chance at getting third place in the next and their final game against the Beatty Hornets. This game was very close, with both teams just a few points away from victory at by the end of the game. Both sides struggled to be the first to 25 points, fighting hard and leaving everything on the court. Thinking back to the game, Lee Vining Tiger Karlina Duro said: “It was a pretty close team because obviously we had both done well. We both knew that we were the same level when we were playing each other. And so it was a huge battle…” But after a dramatic and strenuous ending, the Lady Tigers came out with the win, taking third place in the entire tournament. The moment of victory was practically indescribable: “Everyone was surprised, happy, and crying,” said Stephanie Gomez, a sophomore. Her teammate Sophia McKee, a junior, added, “We did something that hasn’t been done in a while, and took home a trophy!”
All the heart that the ladies put out on the court was worthy of more than a trophy though, and it left the team with good prospects for the rest of the year. “I was super proud of all of us and I think that for being our second game, we really showed Tiger pride and hustle,” Duro said. “We are amazing. I can’t wait to see what happens at the end of the season, because we’re gonna win league and go to playoffs,” said her teammate Stephanie Gomez, smiling happily.
The Junior Varsity (JV) team did an amazing job as well, considering that most of the players were new to high school volleyball, the team was missing two players, and had to face multiple varsity teams that had already practiced together for years. However, despite these not-perfect circumstances, the JV team still played extremely well. They left their hearts out on the court in every match, and most notably, ended up beating Trona, a league varsity team. According to most of the players, this was probably the highlight game of their tournament. Instead of getting down on themselves and each other, the girls would laugh off their mistakes and improve on the next play. This proved to be the best strategy for beating a varsity team, which they did! After some other successful games, the team ended up taking sixth place in the entire tournament.
On top of this, the tournament was the perfect chance for the JV team to practice and get used to high school volleyball. Eva Francaviglia, a freshman player, recollected: “It was fun to play against teams at another level than us so we could get more experience to play more games… [we] learned how to play with each other after having a two month break.” The tournament was also the perfect chance for the team to come together and have some fun. “It was super fun. I liked it when we bonded in the pool,” said Stephanie Amezcua, a freshman. “And we bonded as a team over the road trip,” added Francaviglia.
Overall, the Trona tournament helped both varsity and junior varsity teams gain confidence for the upcoming season, bond together, and most importantly, play the sport they love. Both teams hold promising expectations for the season to come, but whatever happens in the end, I honestly couldn’t be prouder to be part of this amazing LVHS volleyball team and family.