Badgers honor eight seniors as they continue another roll through NSL volleyball

Yosemite Badgers Kylee VanValkenburg and Kelsie Wasem block Liberty’s kill attempt in the first round of NSL volleyball play.
Yosemite Badgers Kylee VanValkenburg and Kelsie Wasem block Liberty’s kill attempt in the first round of NSL volleyball play. Special to the Sierra Star

The two-time defending North Sequoia League champion Yosemite High volleyball team gave special recognition to its eight seniors and their families prior to their win over Kerman as they began the second round of league play on Oct. 4.

The seniors offered advice to younger players just entering the program. “Our motto is that volleyball is not an individual sport,” said Kelsie Wasem. “You have to play with other people. You’re a team in all things. Be excellent to each other.”

“I would say value your memories,” said Sayda Taylor. “The memories I’ve gained with my volleyball team are the best ones of high school. Always have fun, win or lose. Use the experience to grow and to make memories. Don’t think the focus of high school volleyball is to win every game so that it’s no longer fun.”

Jordyn Jackson said volleyball has helped her “become a better leader, teammate and person in general. It’s helped me to become competitive in a good way. I have a very good work ethic and I am very motivated now because of volleyball. Enjoy every practice and every match. It goes by faster than you expect. Enjoy all the little moments.”

“The relationships you build with your teammates are super important,” said Monique Ades. “A lot of the girls I play with are my closest friends. Always be kind and respect your teammates because these are the girls you will be playing with and you have to have each other’s backs all through high school.”

The team ended the first half of their season defeating Sierra in three games (25-14, 25-12, 25-21). They began round two of play last week beating Kerman 25-9, 25-11, 25-20 on the Badgers’ home court.

“Both JV and varsity are 6-0,” head volleyball coach Michele Chenowith said. “The girls continue to work hard. We are having a great time playing together. These girls are all amazing.”

In their latest match with the Kerman Lions, Taylor contributed 15 kills and 10 digs and Jackson added three kills, 19 assists and 11 digs. Other senior stats for the game: Chloe Duke 12 kills, five digs; Ades four kills and one ace serve and Izzy Peter two ace serves and five digs.

Additional team stats for the match against Kerman: Madison Gipson four kills; Madison Morris five kills, six digs; Kylee Van Valkenburg four kills, four digs; Isabelle Magee 12 assists; Ava Gresham 11 digs and Kaylee Smith six digs.

The Badgers had an overall 30-8 record and were 6-0 in league heading into road matches this week at Liberty in Madera Ranchos (Tuesday, Oct. 9) and at Washington Union in Easton (Thursday, Oct. 11).

First-half recap

The Badgers opened the NSL season beating Kerman 25-9, 25-17, 25-12. Outside hitter Duke had 11 kills, two aces and seven digs and setter Jackson added three kills and 19 assists.

Contributing to the team’s win were Magee with 11 assists and six digs, Taylor with seven kills and five digs, Smith with seven digs, senior Bailey Hullender with five digs, Keylee Andersen with four kills, Gresham and senior Tehya Abrahams with four digs each and Morris and Wasem with three kills each.

YHS swept Liberty 3-0. Jackson contributed 19 assists, five digs and three kills; setter Magee 12 assists and 12 digs; middle hitter Taylor seven kills, two blocks and eight digs; Duke 16 kills; Peter 16 digs; defensive player Smith nine digs; Gipson seven digs; Morris five kills; Gresham and Hullender each five digs and outside hitter Andersen three kills.

Week two of conference play pitted the Badgers against the Washington Union Panthers which they won 3-1 and Chowchilla where they won 3-0.

It took the Lady Badgers four games (26-24, 24-26, 25-21, 25-8) to overcome the Washington Union Panthers, now 5-1 in league play and 26-6 overall. Taylor made 14 perfect passes, 20 kills, 19 digs and 24 digs in the match. Smith added 18 perfect passes and 24 digs; Duke 19 kills; Peter six perfect passes and 19 digs; Jackson four kills, 27 assists, 14 digs and three blocks; Morris six kills; Magee 17 assists and two ace serves and Gresham 10 digs.

The Badgers defeated Chowchilla 25-20, 25-14, 25-22. Team leaders in kills were Jackson with 20 and Duke with 16. Taylor contributed nine kills and Morris eight. Magee had 19 assists and Wasem had four kills.

Stats for the match against Sierra: Duke 17 kills; Smith 12 digs, four assists; Jackson 12 digs, 16 assists; Hullender 11 digs; Taylor seven kills, four blocks; Andersen three kills, four digs, two blocks; Magee nine assists and Ades three kills.

The team’s mindset as they progress through the second half of the season was captured by Wasem. “We’ve played Division I teams in the beginning (preseason). They were extremely good. It instilled confidence when we did well against them. But it also instilled humbleness.” She stressed the importance of hard work and perseverance. “Just because we beat these teams in the first round doesn’t mean we will beat them again. We still have to go in with perseverance.”