Volleyball team fights on through setbacks

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NET RESULTS – SWC’s women’s volleyball team hung together despite a tough season.                                                 Photos by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

Volleyball captain Valerie Castañon, like William Shakespeare, is resilient. On a team with a record of 3-20, it definitely helps.

“Wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss,” wrote The Bard, “but cheerily seek how to redress their harms.”

Castañon agreed.

“The good thing about being down as we are, there is only one way up,” she said.

Shorthanded with only eight players, SWC’s team has not packed it in. Its captain and coach will not let that happen.

Coach Jennifer Saleaumua said she does not believe in excuses and is putting her players through a lot of work to build physical and mental strength.

“I tell the girls, ‘If you do not feel 100 percent today, then do not come to practice,’” she said. “I want them to come in here with a clear mind of, ‘Let’s just play volleyball and let’s get it done.’”

Eight tough women have accepted her challenge. Some others do not. Saleaumua said she had players lined up for this fall, but a number of them opted out even though they had committed to play for the Lady Jaguars.

“We are not a program that wins a lot,” she said. “A lot of girls feel like if they go to the top schools they will not benefit from it. Some of them do not get to play.”

Being a student-athlete requires sacrifices and sometimes life gets in the way, said Athletic Director Jim Spillers. Rosters of collegiate teams are inconsistent.

“Community college athletics in general ebbs and flows,” he said. “Life happens.”

With only eight players fatigue is inevitable, Castañon said, but teamwork improves.

Sophomore Carly Threadgill said a small team also forces versatility.

“There is not always going to be a person who can take your place while you sit it out,” she said. “We fight as hard as we can during the game.”

Saleaumua said helping to rebuild a team has benefits. Being part of a team that goes from rock bottom to success would look better on a resume.

“I think it is unfortunate that I have to produce wins for girls to come here instead of (them) wanting to come here and start working for it,” she said.

Castañon remains philosophical and upbeat. She said the only thing that can really drag the team down are players not doing their best.

“It is about heart and passion,” she said. “Do not play like you do not want to lose, play like you want to win.”

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