Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Menlo-Atherton senior outside hitter Devin Joos is looking to lead the Bears to their sixth straight postseason appearance.
Devin Joos’ final day of summer break was anything but fun in the sun.
With school starting Tuesday for the Menlo-Atherton senior, Joos spent the morning seeing off her older brother Lawson as he departed for the University of Arizona. Then in the afternoon, she wound down by hitting the M-A gym for the final round of double-day tryouts.
Entering her second year with the Bears after transferring from St. Francis last season, Joos was at the top of the list of players tabbed to make the 13-player varsity squad, and for good reason. She’s a high-intensity player, a little rough around the edges, but capable of big things.
Just look at her performance against Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division rival Woodside last season. Joos scored 39 kills against the Wildcats on Oct. 15 last season in just her third match of the season, after sitting out the first half of the year due to transfer rules. And according to Menlo-Atherton head coach Ron Whitmill, Joos scored the career-high kills total while being sick with the flu.
“She’s a tough kid,” Whitmill said. “She’s been durable. Last year she had (almost) 40 kills against Woodside and had the flu that day. She went into the bathroom and threw up as soon as it was over.”
Joos was equally as tough soldiering through the summer with her Vision 17 Gold club team despite twice spraining her ankle. While playing in Los Angeles during the team’s second qualifier match of the season, Joos turned her ankle on the floor and was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.
After nearly a month of downtime, she decidedly got back on the floor by wrapping the ankle with so much athletic tape it looked like a makeshift cast. Then a week prior to the USAV Girls’ Junior National Championships held June 29 to July 2 in Minneapolis, Joos re-sprained the ankle. She played through the pain at Junior Nationals, but Vision finished a disappointing 23rd in the nation.
With over a month to mend, Joos said the ankle is now 100 percent.
“She’s been a tough kid for us. So, I’m not worried about her,” Whitmill said. “She’s going to show up; she’s going to do her thing.”
When Joos does her thing, it’s entertaining to watch. She walks onto the court bringing with her one of the most powerful swings in the PAL — as well as one of the most confident swaggers.
“It’s funny, a lot of people throughout the years have had positive and negative random comments about what they think I feel when I play. And honestly, when I play, I don’t really think,” Joos said. “It’s definitely something I think about if things are not going smoothly, but otherwise I’m just doing my own thing — just fluid.”
At times, things didn’t go Menlo-Atherton’s way last season, especially with the health of star outside hitter Pauli King. Now on roster as a freshman at Princeton, King was slowed by a recurring shoulder injury last season. She still managed to land All-League honors and lead M-A to its fifth straight Central Coast Section appearance.
And Joos recognizes she has big shoes to fill this season with the departure of King.
“A lot of the girls look up to her,” Joos said. “She is definitely a volleyball icon at the school. She’s kind of the face of volleyball for M-A. I’m definitely trying … to just step in and follow in her footsteps and create just as good of a vibe and energy that M-A entitles.”
In addition to being looked to as one of the team leaders this year, Joos will be taking on an expanded role as well. While she struggled with her defense and back row play at times last season, the star senior will be counted on as a six-rotation player, according to Whitmill.
“I think we’re going to need her more than we needed her last year,” Whitmill said. “I think her and Pauli, they always had the luxury of having another player with them. … This year, Devin is going to be our only one true, big hitter.”
Not that M-A doesn’t have a solid foundation of returning players. Joos projects as a potential Division I college talent. So does junior opposite hitter Leanna Collins, who as a sophomore last season paced the Bears with a .303 kill percentage in the midst of the superstar firepower of King and Joos.
“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Whitmill said. “We have a lot of talented kids. I think we’re going to do really good. I think we have a very good chance of being the top team in the PAL.”
And so what if Joos didn’t get to enjoy any fun in the sun on the last day of summer break? When she is on the court, at least, rosy and sunshine isn’t exactly her style. That is when she is at her best.
“As well as being a leader on the team, everyone looks to you; everyone expects you to just be almighty and fearful,” Joos said. “So, even if it’s going bad, you just have to put on a smile — or just the opposite and give them hell.”