The Dons are on a hot streak as the CIF championship arrives. The Santa Barbara High School girls varsity volleyball team has had a very successful season so far. Their current record is 9-2. The team is doing exceedingly well, with hitters Emma Zuffelato and Shae Delany leading in kills, Annie Knecht and Gracie Meinzer leading in assists, and Campbell Brown and Ivy Van Zant leading the team in blocks. Another significant contribution to the team’s success is the coaching staff. Kristen Hempy and Kim Zuffelato are both playing important roles in leading this team to victory.
A few weeks ago, the Dons defeated their rivals the San Marcos Royals. After beating Santa Barbara in three quick sets a couple of weeks earlier, the Royals were expected to win. The game was a nail-biter, going back and forth and taking up all five sets. The first four sets were very tense. The student sections erupted with noise when their team won a set or threw down an amazing kill. San Marcos won the first set, with SBHS following them and taking the second set, going back and forth until the fifth set came upon them. After coming back and winning the fourth set, SBHS had control over the game, but SMHS still wanted this win. The fifth set arrived, and the Dons were looking ready to win this game. As soon as the Dons scored the first point, they took the game with them. The Royals just could not bounce back and the Dons ended up defeating the Royals in the last set, 15-4, winning 3 sets to 2.
As mentioned before, one of the major contributions to the volleyball team’s success is the setter, Annie Knecht. Knecht has been staying dedicated and determined to give her team a rewarding season. She has a lot of faith in her team, as she states, “We have a really talented team this year and we thrive under pressure well, so I am confident that we will rise up to whatever is thrown our way.”
The Dons were feeling like champions, after beating Dos Pueblos and San Marcos back to back, after having lost to both of them in three sets. Annie also mentioned, “I am so happy and still in a bit of shock that we beat them. But I always knew we had it in us to pull it together and beat both SMHS and DPHS the second time around!” They had trained so hard for both games and it clearly paid off for both of them.
Although COVID has affected the team, it hasn’t stopped them from working hard and staying persistent. They have been practicing and improving daily and they are still working toward their goal of winning CIF. Annie says, “I am so thankful that we can play a full season during this pandemic. We weren’t able to have a season last year…but I am excited for the rest of the season!”
Currently, the Dons are in the final round of CIF playoffs after defeating South Hills High School. In three quick sets Santa Barbara gave South Hills their second loss in the league, knocking them out of CIF playoffs. The Dons still left with the win, the confidence, and the chance of achieving their dream.
On the topic of CIF, the Dons are the number one seed in the third division, meaning that they are the best team in the third group of high school girls volleyball teams. Santa Barbara High School has a lot of potential to win the CIF Championship because of their commitment and dedication to the sport. They have been putting in hours and hours of work to achieve their dreams and goals. The team has worked together, helping each other and making each other better everyday.
[Image Credit: London Moro]