This week Tehachapi volleyball won their first league title since 2013 but did it without one standout player. Instead, fourth year coach Sheri Dees says the 2016 is more well rounded than any team she can remember.
Sophomore setter Paige Parker is the perfect example. She leads the team in serve aces, hitting accuracy and assists and was so focused on her role, she didn't find out the team won league until our interview. "We did?" she asked. "Well winning league is great then!"
Coach Dees wrote two goals on the team whiteboard at the start of the year. 1. League Champions (10-0) and 2. CIF Champions. A win Thursday night over West would complete that first objective but Dees feels if the team can continue how they've started, they'll have a good chance to finish the second as well.
While many volleyball teams claim to be a family, this Warriors squad truly feels it's true thanks to the mere presence of Paige. "Not that we needed the glue," said Dees. "But she has been the glue that's held everyone together."
A year and a half ago, Paige's mom Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. "She's always very committed and always wanted me to do what I wanted to do," said Parker.
Lisa was Paige's biggest fan, often driving her to volleyball tournaments in Bakersfield or Los Angeles. So when Lisa succumbed to the cancer earlier this month, Paige felt it was right to return to the court. "She always pushed me so I think right now she'd be super happy seeing our success," Paige said.
Her fight off the court has helped inspire the Warriors play on it. "She's just come on the court and let that go and played for her teammates," said senior Lindsay Nava.
That resilience has helped the Warriors to not drop a single set in league play but Coach Dees says Paige's fight is bigger than volleyball. "It's what all moms want to see in their daughters. They want to see that strength and courage and dignity and that never give up attitude," she said.
Want to have your student featured? Suggest an athlete here.
Like Stephen Hicks on Facebook-https://www.facebook.com/StephenHicks23ABC
Follow him on Twitter- https://twitter.com/stephenhicks23