Last year’s Sacred Heart Prep girls’ volleyball team was special in more ways than one. Up and down the roster, the Gators boasted senior leadership. So it came as no surprise when SHP took the Central Coast Section title, the NorCal championship and finished second in California overall.
But this season, with those eight seniors gone, it’s been an unaccustomed rough start for the girls off of Valparaiso in Atherton.
“We haven’t played Gator volleyball,” said head coach Damien Hardy. “And that’s one of the expectations we always have: come out and play Gator volleyball and get the job done. And we’ve struggled with that so far. I think a big part of that is attributed to losing eight seniors. So we really don’t have any leaders out there.”
Absent as a leader has been through the first 13 matches of the season, it’s looking more and more like that search is over.
Enter Victoria Garrick, a major contributor to last season’s team and a player who, as only a sophomore, did not shy away from the big moments.
Natually, as one of the more gifted players at SHP, the natural progression of things suggests she’d slip into the leadership role — she was even voted as one of this season’s captains. But, through the first couple of matches, it hadn’t quite sunk in yet for the powerful outside hitter.
“All of our teammates are looking to her to be that leader,” Hardy said. “Right now, I’m not sure if she’s ready for it. But after this weekend, she really took steps toward being that. And that’s something we absolutely need.”
Garrick has filled the stat sheet just fine. Always, amongst the kill leaders for the Gators, Garrick was a force at the Harbor Tournament over the weekend. SHP went 4-1 behind Garrick’s 61 kills and 54 digs. She rightfully earned all-tournament honors in the process.
So, as far as statistical effort is concerned, Garrick is very deserving of the Daily Journal’s Athlete of the Week honor.
But what Hardy, along with the rest of Gator Nation, is hoping, is that the Harbor Tournament gave birth to SHP’s next great leader.
“Early on, she didn’t know to [be the leader],” Hardy said. “She knew that she was going to be the leader but she didn’t really know all the intricate characteristics of being a leader. She wasn’t being all the leader this team needs. Now, I think she realizes how much of a load she needs to carry and I think she’s adjusting pretty well to it.”
Garrick’s new found cerebral approach is finally meeting up with her physical gifts.
“The biggest thing she brings for us is passing,” Hardy said. “She’s getting a lot better at passing and playing defense. Now, if she can get even better and stay within our system, we’ll be fine. Defense is going to win us championships. And she’s a leader in that sense. Offensively, she’s a gifted athlete and she just needs to understand we’re going to feed her the ball when we can. She’s trusting us a little more as a coaching staff. She’s controlling the ball and hitting it in the right spots.”
And so, once those the mental and physical parts of Garrick’s game come together, well, watch out West Bay Athletic League (and the rest of CCS for that matter).
“This is the type of tournament that is great for her. Now, after the all-tournament, she led our team in kills, she knows she’s it. We know she’ll get there. We hope she gets there soon.”