lister Borabo has an interesting distinction with the Rage Westside Volleyball Club.
A recent graduate of Mercy-Burlingame, the 6-foot outside hitter is the only player on the Rage 17U with a high school diploma. The remainder of the 12-player roster — including Elena Radiff (Sacred Heart Prep), Emmy Sharp (Burlingame), Nadia Barcklay (Hillsdale) and Marit Hoyem (Menlo-Atherton) — has yet to graduate.
Still, Borabo is insistent she is technically not the oldest player on the team. That would be Radeff, who despite coming off her junior high school season, is one month Borabo’s senior.
“So, not the old lady,” Borabo said.
As the Rage opens play in the USA Volleyball Junior National 17 Open tournament Tuesday in Indianapolis, head coach Jen Agresti will look to draw on all the experience she can to lead her team into battle with the 32 top club volleyball teams in the nation.
In her second season with the relatively new Rage Westside club, Agresti is no stranger to the Junior National stage. While she serves as Notre Dame-Belmont’s varsity head coach in the fall, spring and summer have long been Agresti’s time to shine. This year will mark her 17th straight trip to the Junior National tourney, including stints at three other clubs: Red Rock, Vision and Encore.
“I’ve been with this squad three years … so they know the travel,” Agresti said. “They know the time change. You can just feel the hype. We’re talking the top 32 teams in the nation. From the minute they serve the first ball, it’s guns blazing.”
Borabo has seen decent, albeit inconsistent playing time in her first year with Rage. As a three-year varsity starter at Mercy-Burlingame, she finished her career as an first-team all-West Bay Athletic League Foothill Division outside hitter.
Depending on some injury issues at the middle hitter position, Borabo could figure into the starting lineup Tuesday as Rage begins pool play. The team is slated for three games in pool play, which will determine their fate moving forward.
“We’re coming out, a six or seven team pool, you’ve got to win those to stay alive,” Agresti said.
While club volleyball travel schedules are notoriously rugged, Borabo will be logging more miles than anyone this summer — by far. The tournament spans through Saturday. For Borabo, though, her return to her South San Francisco home will be a short one as she has a flight booked for July 15 to leave for the Philippines, where she will be attending De La Salle University in Manilla in the fall on a full athletic scholarship.
“I really liked it,” said Borabo, who went on a visit to the campus last summer. “Everything there is English-based, too. So, it won’t be as big a culture shock.”
Borabo said she certainly hit it off with De La Salle head coach Ramil de Jesus, who has led the DLSU Spikers to prominence, including three straight league titles. He has also served on staff for the Filipino women’s national team.
After already having plans to travel to the Philippines last summer, Borabo said she contacted de Jesus via Facebook instant messenger. He offered her a weeklong workout with the team. Before that week was through, she had a scholarship offer in hand.
“I kind of wanted to stay in California at first,” Borabo said. “I looked over all my options and I figured the Philippines is my best choice.”
Now Borabo is honing her craft with Agresti, who was a rival coach during her high school years. Agresti is a volleyball guru, though, and Borabo knew a good thing when the coach approached her during the 2018 season about joining Rage.
Agresti’s best finish in the Junior National tournament came in 2015 while at Encore, when a team led by Notre Dame-Belmont legend Katie Smoot — now at University of Arizona — took third place in the Open Division.
“I’ve never really had a coach like Jen that is so energetic and so aggressive,” Borabo said. “From all the coaches I’ve had, she always wants more. There’s not a limit to her. I’ve never been with a coach so into the game as she is.”