With talent up and down rosters across the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division, coaches aren’t shy about proclaiming this to be one of the best seasons in San Mateo County’s recent history.
But when digging through rosters trying to find the best of the best in the PAL, a certain Wildcat always leads the conversation: Christine Alftin.
“I still think she’s the best all-around player around,” said Woodside head coach Kyle Mashima. “I don’t think there is a single player that can play all the positions as well as she does. Because, there are players that hit well, that don’t pass well, play back row or play good defense. So, I think she’s the best combination of hitter, digger, passer, all-around.”
It’s hard to argue against Mashima when you take a look at Alftin’s numbers. While she took the PAL by storm last season after transferring from St. Francis-Mountain View, this year, even with teams zoning on her, Alftin has proven there are many ways to hurt an opponent. Yes, there are the kills, but No. 11’s contributions to the now first-place Wildcats go beyond that.
And her overall game was on full display last week in a couple of gigantic wins for Woodside. First, a 32-kill, 13-dig performance propelled Alftin to a win over Carlmont. She then burned Aragon for 19 kills and nine digs to keep the Wildcats atop the division standings.
For her efforts, Alftin is the Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
“You’re talking about another year of maturity, of more experience,” Mashima said of her senior campaign thus far. “I just think she continued to improve her hitting ability and every aspect of her skill-set has gotten better. Plus, people tend to forget, but elite athletes don’t get there by just practicing volleyball. She does heavy conditioning. She’s in very, very good shape.”
And that’s the part of Alftin’s game that makes her special — she’s at her physical peak during crunch time when other players are running out of steam. “To hit those last couple of balls, if you look at her performance in game fives in almost every match it’s been phenomenal,” Mashima said. “To have the energy to do that — others start petering out but she’s just in great shape.”
Alftin has put Woodside in great shape as well with those two wins. That victory against Carlmont was huge in terms of the standings and a bit of revenge. The Wildcats are 11-1 in league play with their lone loss coming against the Scots. With a chance at Bay Division redemption, Alftin went off for a season-high 32 kills.
“She was really excited to play them again,” Mashima said. “We all felt like we could beat Carlmont. It was a huge number [of kills]. And she had a number of those in that fifth set.”