By Annie Kim
The women’s volleyball team at Irvine Valley College (IVC) ended their season last Saturday night on Nov. 11. Our record for this season came out to 15 wins and 6 losses, and we were ranked 10th in the state of California. During the season, Allie Cook recorded a season-high of 19 kills. Sophia Furlong directed her hitters with 50 assists against Golden West College. Captain Sarah Mendoza led the team with a tremendous effort of 41 digs for a win against Saddleback College. Sophomore middle blocker Emily Mount finished with 9 kills, 3 blocks and hit a team-high .438 to beat seventh-ranked Moorpark College.
These are the names, numbers and statistics continuously being recycled throughout the press of California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) and the summary of each game on the IVC Athletics webpage. The number of wins in our record and the amount of times we smash a volleyball down on the other side of the net is how our audience perceives the success of our team.
Trust me — every now and then, we as athletes may fall into those same pair of naive eyes, solely concentrating on that big win and our own selfish individual success portrayed through statistics. Sometimes, we lose sight of what the bigger picture is. Figures and digits are a miniscule part of a team’s journey throughout the season. This rings true for the IVC Lasers’ women’s volleyball team this fall season.
I have played competitive volleyball for six years on four different teams, ranging from high school to collegiate level. Before I became a Lasers volleyball player, I have survived some insane practices run by a handful of militant coaches. Once the hands of the clock hit the scheduled practice time, our legs were moving, volleyballs were flying, voices echoed throughout the gym and beads of sweat flowed down our necks and backs, seeping through our shirts. My past coaches have engraved the idea of never wasting a single minute in practice. Every moment involved training to be the best that we could physically be. If we weren’t diving, jumping, squatting and sweating, we weren’t getting better.
This season, my first week of practice at IVC took me back for a surprise. Our coaches spent the first 20 to 30 minutes of each practice explaining our itinerary for the next two hours, tied in with a John Wooden quote. During our first week, one of the Wooden quotes were, “Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.”
Our head coach, Tom Pestolesi, explained that no matter what happens or who gets more recognition than who, it’s all about being a great teammate. If you get invited to baby showers, weddings and birthday parties, then you have done it the right way. My first thought was, what is going on? At the time, all I really wanted to do was to get on the court and start playing volleyball. I understood the concept and the importance of it, but did it really have to take up a fourth of practice to be explained? Yes, it did.
Every practice, our five devoted coaches, Pesto, Ki, Doc, Naki and Chantel led the 20-minute talk, each throwing in their two cents on what the purpose of this game is and the relevant lessons it teaches us about our own journeys in life.
As a team, we went through our ups and downs — a rolled-up rubber band ball of friendship and bonds, funny moments, good and bad practices, great wins and heartbreaking losses. It was a growing process, together. This season, we learned the greatness of competition, the unbreakable spirit of being a team and that there’s more to life than just volleyball. Our coaches wanted us to strive to “make everyday our masterpiece.”
We made it to the second round of the playoffs but lost to the second seed, El Camino College. Those incredible moments and plays that occurred during that match are the reasons why we put in the countless hours of repetition during practice and continue to love the game. Down on the CCCAA records, it will show a “3-2 W” for El Camino, that “W” doesn’t explain the fight we put up in that gym. That Saturday night, we fought our hearts out and left everything we had on that court.
In our team huddle after the game, one of our coaches said, “You have every right to be proud of yourselves tonight. El Camino is not happy they won, El Camino is happy they escaped from you.” At the start of this season, we walked on to the volleyball court as individuals; we left El Camino’s gym as a team.
There’s more to this game than just getting the volleyball up in the air, setting it up for a hitter and trying to put it down on the other side of the net. It is the lessons that you learn throughout the journey with your team that makes this sport so great.
The records show that we ended with a 15-6 record. To anyone else, it seems like we were just another team that lost in the second round of playoffs. These numbers give the outside world the impression that we weren’t good enough to win it all. Let me tell you what the records of the press and college athletic websites really need to know about the 2011 IVC’s Women’s Volleyball team: We made this season our masterpiece.