Michael Watkins/ Courier Grace Crawford of Pasadena City College dives for the ball during Pasadena’s loss on the road against Ventura College on Wednesday September 20, 2017.
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A few minutes into practice, gathered in a circle on the court of the Braun Athletic Center, the coach and the girls of the Pasadena City College volleyball team talk about how to challenge themselves, spread words of encouragement and denounce gossip and negativity. Then they yell a chant and break their huddle to begin the intense practice. 

With the slogan “team first” said before their games, the team recently won the 5 set game 3-2 against the Ventura Pirates on Wednesday Sept. 4. 

With two players out they tested many different lineups; although it was a nerve-racking game, the team persisted. Kaitlyn Karsten, a freshman, explained that all of the set scores on Wednesday’s game were “very close.” However, the girls were able to come out on top. Erykah Wilson showed great skills as she led the team in kills. While in set 5 with a disheartening score of 2-5, Saku Yoshioka used her skilled serving to not only catch the team up but gave PCC the lead. 

“I had a great time playing, it was fun, it was very intense, but it was nice to go out and play with the girls and kick some butt,” said Wilson. 

The team of 10 freshmen and 5 returning players has competed in 5 preseason games so far and they have won them all. The girls expressed that they are very hopeful for the upcoming season of 28 games and hope to move on to playoffs. 

Karsten explained that their pre-game rituals are a big part of their success.

“Before every game we have a pregame meal that we always go out to around 2 hours beforehand,” Karsten said. “We try to visualize our goals for the game and how we’re going to succeed on and off the court and how were going to better our teammates and encourage one another.” 

The girls’ constant positivity and practicing is what ignites their good teamwork and ability to have won all the games so far. Karsten said that the team’s strength is “positive attitude going into the game.” While communication on court is something they need to improve on, she believes they will fix. 

Coach Mike Terrill explained how the girls practice everyday they do not have a game. They started practice on July 2 and practice offense, defense, six-on-six drills and more. Even during the offseason they are still actively maintaining their fitness and skills by frequenting the weight room and playing beach volleyball with each other. 

“Coach Mike bases practices off of how games go,” Wilson said. “If we struggled with passing, like on Wednesday passing was OK, but wasn’t the best, so today we’re definitely going to work on passing.”

Wilson, a freshman, talked about the struggles of balancing student and athlete life. 

“It’s kinda hard,” Wilson said. “You’re coming home late from practice or you’re coming home late from a game so, like, there have been a lot of late nights these past two weeks. But I think it’s doable.” 

She further explained that it is manageable for her because of her love for the sport and the team’s upbeat nature. 

“A couple of our team’s core values are confidence and faith and the other one is adapt,” Terrill said. “I think we’ve earned the right to feel confident in our ability as a team, but we also know that we have to continue to keep getting better and to keep learning.”

Although it is early in the season, Hannah Clarke, the assistant coach, expressed confidence in the team as well. 

“I think this group of girls is one of the most competitive we’ve had in awhile,” Clarke said. “They’re willing to learn and adapt to any environment.”

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