The most important development for this year’s Foster volleyball team might not have happened on hardwood, but on sand.
“I had quite a few players do beach tournaments during the summer,” said Foster coach Brandi Travess. “It was amazing to see how their skills improved in a matter of days.”
Travess said one obvious benefit of playing beach volleyball is better conditioning, but the bigger benefits come because there are only two players on the team.
“You have to touch every other ball and you have to do every single skill,” she said. “There’s no escaping it.”
Because of that, playing in beach tournaments turns into a super concentrated version of practice, giving the players more experience in a short time.
Lesieli Tapealava, Eunica Serafica, Vernonica Sun and Yen Le played in the beach tournaments and Travess said it’s helped immensely.
“They have really pulled together and are kind of the core of the team right now,” Travess said.
Tapealava, Sun and Le are all in their third year of playing varsity. Travess remembers her first season when Sun and Tapealava were thrust into starting spots in the team’s first game as setters because the Bulldogs only had six or seven girls eligible.
“They didn’t know about rotations,” Travess said. “They were just looking at me with big eyeballs.”
Those growing pains might be about to pay off as Foster’s young players are getting more experienced.
“They’ve been the key to the team from the beginning of my time at the school,” Travess said. “They’ve turned into really good leaders.”
Tapealava will be the team’s setter, while Sun will spend time at both setter and hitter. Le plays Libero. Serafica, a sophomore and the team’s top newcomer, plays hitter and setter as well.
Other key returners are junior middle hitter Aba Monkah and senior middle hitter Sahara Hill.
“This team has a lot of potential,” Travess said. “I’m just hoping to stay on the same track, keep the team working together.”
Foster takes on Hazen Sept. 20 and Highline Sept. 22 .
VOLLEBALL AT A GLANCE
Brandi Travess, third year
1-10 in league; 2-14 overall
Lesielie Tapealava, jr., setter; Yen Le, jr., libero; Aba Monkah, jr., middle hitter; Sahara Hill, sr., middle hitter; Veronica Sun, jr., hitter/setter
Eunica Serafica, soph., hitter/setter
The only big loss for the team was outside hitter Sejla Suta. Practically the entire varsity team is back and they have been getting a lot of playing time under Travess. The team has paid for that in its win/loss record the past couple of years, but now might be the time for the Bulldogs to reap the reward for playing those young talents.
LAST STATE APPEARANCE: 2005.