In hopes of adding to the banners on the walls of Ken Stanley Court, the women’s volleyball team begins preparing more than four months prior to the start of their season.
After suffering back-to-back heartache in the state championship game in 2015 and 2016, the Brahmas look to make the title game for the third year in a row.
Nabil Mardini, women’s volleyball head coach, plans to bring in new recruits from not only the San Fernando Valley, but all over the state, in hopes to improve the team and increase their chances of winning the championship this year.
“We recruit the best talent out there,” Mardini said. “We train hard. We make sure that we bring in people that fit the culture and the characteristics of the program, because it’s not for everybody.”
According to Mardini, in the past 10 seasons Pierce had made it to the state championship more than any other school.
Mardini believes he knows why the Brahmas couldn’t finish the season the way they hoped the last two years.
“I think we fell short because we had some key injuries, and we just didn’t have the right people at the right time,” Mardini said. “But that’s part of the season, everybody goes through it.”
Outsider Shari Volpis is one of those key injuries from last season. Volpis is getting back into the swing of practice and conditioning after undergoing surgery for an overused meniscus six months ago.
“I’m just now getting back into jumping,” Volpis said. “I’m doing a lot of physical therapy and slowly working my way back into full speed.”
Freshman setter Darla Hitchens, believes that to help the team win the championship this year they need to communicate better during plays and come together more as a team.
“There were just a lot of unnecessary errors,” Hitchens said. “We just need to have communication and just more consistency, and I think that the title could be ours this year.”
Danetta Boykin, assistant coach, is optimistic that with this year’s new recruits coming in, and with the return of previously injured sophomore players, the team has a firm chance at winning this season.
“We have a middle coming in this upcoming year, she’s pretty tall,” Boykin said. “We have a 6-foot-2-inch outside hitter coming in this year, she’s really, really good. So I think we have a good chance this year.”
Despite falling short of the title the last two years, the team is optimistic about making it back to the championship game, and Mardini believes they have the pieces in place to bring the trophy home.
“You need talent to win, but you need people who are willing to buy in and work super hard,” Mardini said. “I think our team culture is very strong, effective and powerful, and it’s a beauty to see if you get all the right pieces together.”