Volleyball makes headway through major setbacks

CJ Little and CJ Little

Swatting away adversity proves to be no problem for head coach Ashlie Hain and the American River College women’s volleyball team.  Despite an 11-2 preseason, all was not well for the Beavers. At the San Jose City College Invitational, sophomore Shelby Young won most valuable player of the tournament, but the win proved to be costly.

During the third set in the final round against Foothill, Young tore her ACL—effectively ending her season. ARC wouldn’t be deterred in the conference opener against rival Sacramento City College. After a nine-year drought against SCC, the Beavers finally defeated the Panthers in three straight sets: 25-16, 25-21, and 25-22.

“It was annoying not to be able to beat them (since 2002), but we’re just scratching the surface with this team,” said coach Hain after her first victory against SCC since she arrived in 2009. ARC kept their momentum going with a win over Diablo Valley College in three straight sets: 25-19, 25-21, and eventually trouncing DVC 25-8.

Young was on the sidelines, leg brace and all, cheering her team on as they continue to pick up the slack with their star player inactive. ARC went on to defeat Modesto College 3-1 and sweep Sierra College 3-0, improving to 4-0 within the conference, keeping the confidence sky high. 2010 all-conference sophomore Mariko Kawashima has started to take a leadership role this season. She understands the significance of Young’s injury and the need to rally the team together.

“It should pull us together as a team. It’ll take more than one person to fill her shoes, but I try to lead by example,” said Kawashima. Other key players to step up include freshmen Bailey Humes, who leads the team in assists, and Whitney Lang, along with sophomore Dakota Long-Mitchell who uses her six-foot-four-inch frame to provide an intimidating presence in the middle.

“You usually don’t get someone that size at this level, you just don’t train for that,” Hain said.The expectation for Hain is to make it to the state championships at Shasta College in Redding in December, but the focus for now is on continuing the level of play that has helped this team defeat adversity and opponents alike. “I love the attitude of this team.

We have a common purpose as a team and believe we can win every game,” Hain said. The Beavers host Cosumnes River College on Wednesday, Oct. 12 and San Joaquin Delta College on Friday, Oct. 14.