Acorns on the upswing

Kathleen Davis sees tremendous potential for the Live Oak High girls volleyball program. The Acorns’ coach has plans to get the team out of the C division of the Blossom Valley Athletic League—which is the West Valley Division—within the next couple of years, along with establishing a consistency that characterizes perennially solid programs.

“One of the goals is to be an asset to this program and establish long-term growth,” said Davis, whose team entered the week at 2-2 overall and 2-0 in division play. “I feel we’re on an upward swing and gaining some momentum to propel the program for years to come.”The Live Oak High girls volleyball team is intent on earning a promotion to the BVAL’s Santa Teresa Division within the next year or two.

The Acorns are intent on winning the BVAL’s West Valley Division championship, which would put them in position to get promoted to the Santa Teresa—the middle or B division of the three-tiered BVAL—next season. Live Oak has seven seniors on its 12-player roster, including Monte Vista Christian-transfer Carson Gilroy, who will be eligible to play on Sept. 24. According to Davis, Gilroy is the real deal.

“The girls nominated her to be one of the captains because she’s definitely a leader in practice,” Davis said. “She’s one of the strongest passers I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing her play in a match for us.”

A defensive specialist, Gilroy’s versatility—she can also hit and set—will allow Davis to utilize her at other positions as well. Sofia Lacera, a sophomore setter, has come on strong and Davis can’t wait to see her potential unfold in the coming years.

Davis credits assistant coaches Karina Daniels and Demornay Granado as providing strong coaching acumen and the necessary support to get the varsity and junior varsity teams up and running. Anabela Stewart, a senior middle blocker, possesses plenty of physical skills to go along with the all-important intangibles.

“She has a strong presence and is very communicative,” Davis said. “She’s great at hyping up the team and bringing lots of energy to the court. She’s very intense and a great all-around player.”

Sam Evans, the team’s other senior captain and outside hitter, also brings a lot of energy to the team while also having the unique ability to get the team loose whenever it’s in tense situations.

“She motivates people and lets them know it’s OK if they make a mistake, but that they have to shake it off and focus on the next point,” Davis said. “Her presence lifts everyone up.”

Kendall Kirk, a senior middle blocker, is a downright difference-maker at the net. An efficient and powerful hitter, Kirk is equally adept at stuffing the opposition’s attack.

“Not many balls can get by her when she’s on,” Davis said. “When she’s on, hitters don’t have much of a chance because she can jump high. Kendall has grown and continues to realize her potential.”

Shannon Peterson, a senior outside hitter/right side, passes and serves well while also having the ability to terminate the ball with proficiency.

“She’s one of those players who worked hard in the off-season and has grown so much,” Davis said. “In terms of her volleyball knowledge and maturity, I can see it in tangible ways. She’s been sick the last couple of weeks, so it’s been tough on her. But she’s powered through it. She won’t miss a practice, she’s committed and super focused.”

Kerra Blotz, a junior defensive specialist/outside hitter, is one of the team’s go-to players in the back row. Blotz’s ability to pass consistently allows Live Oak to get in the flow of its offense time and again. Davis also said Blotz also “hits well in the front row and is a fantastic server.”

Janelle Laflin, a sophomore middle/outside hitter, has tremendous potential and improved greatly in the off-season.

“You could see it from the moment she stepped on the court in summer conditioning,” Davis said. “Her vertical (jump) increased, her timing is better at the net and she can put the ball down. She’s already an impressive player, and I can’t wait to see what she’s like as a senior.”

Anna Demario, a freshman setter/right side, has the complete skill set and plays beyond her age.

“We’re very lucky to have her,” Davis said. “Her fundamentals are excellent and she’s one of the hardest working players I’ve seen in a long time. She can pass, set, is focused, very tenacious and perseveres. She will correct whatever she needs to do and overcome and win any situation.”

With a small roster, Davis said everyone contributes including Julieanne Woodie, a senior outside hitter/right side; Hannah Havstad, a sophomore defensive specialist; and Bella Anglikowski, a senior defensive specialist.

“I’m very optimistic because the girls have been working hard and we’ve been seeing a lot of great things,” Davis said. “Some of the girls played club in the off-season and came back with more intensity, focus and even better attitudes. That will take us a long way.”

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