Looking back at the season that just passed, Coach Tammy Silva smirks without any regrets. With a predominantly freshman squad, the women’s volleyball team came its closest to the playoffs in a long while.With the 2007 season being her first year, Silva has every reason to smile, especially rebuilding a team from last year’s 2-19 record. This isn’t just a turnaround season for the squad – in fact, it could be considered a rescue.
“The most frustrating part,” said Silva, “Southern California picks 16 teams to play in the first round of playoffs and we were number 17.”
Irritation aside with missing the playoffs by one game, Silva doesn’t let the smaller details get to her or the team. With a laundry list of obstacles staring the volleyball team at the beginning of last season, Silva approached the whole thing very aggressively. She recruited players with the enthusiasm to bring some traction to the volleyball program at PCC.
Freshman and Middle Block Aliyyah Abdullah, who was picked up from Balboa High School in San Francisco, had the right personality and athleticism that Silva was looking for.
“When we win a game, we’ve accomplished something,” said the 18-year-old Abdullah, “It’s a game where we gave everything we had. But if we lose a game and gave everything we had, well we leave that on the court. You shouldn’t be down about it.”
With a hint of modesty in her voice, Abdullah avoids mentioning how the team split the season after starting off with a 0-6 record. The coach confesses “it took us a bit longer to learn to play together.”
For freshman Amy Stone it wasn’t a matter of familiarizing herself with the team, but getting her teammates’ names correct.
Stone was pulled out of a P.E. class and asked to join the team when one of the other players quit before the season started. Stone had been playing since sixth grade, but didn’t tryout for the team when she got to PCC.
“It just wasn’t a goal of mine. I thought about it, but never gave it serious consideration. But things change,” said Stone. She, along with the other freshman, was thrown into the fray.
“At first it was hard. I didn’t’ know anyone’s name. It was, “Hey You” on the court. But the team opened up to me very quickly,” she added.
Bonding is one part of being on a team, but what about getting to know the coach and the returning sophomores? Opposite Hitter Candice Price admits that in the beginning of the season there was a bit of hostility from the returning players.
“It’s a mutual respect. If we didn’t treat them right, they were going to send that energy back at us. Time eventually brought us together,” said Price. Other players like Abdullah agrees, “from the first day we met each other to now, we’re family.”
So the feelings were mutual, but at the college grade, some degree of aggression is welcomed, especially from the coach. Price said, “she’s definitely an aggressive coach, but she’s not easy on you either. But that’s what you expect in a college level and I don’t feel we should question her.”
Other players unquestionably agree that Silva can be aggressive, but she’s that needed medicine that has made all the difference.
“She has that determination that we needed,” reveals libero Diana Velasquez.
“We all started out rocky,” said outside hitter Ashley Marhsman who made first team All-Conference, “but. how would I sum it up?”
“It was an improvement,” blurted out outside hitter Brittni May. “It was enjoyable and productive.”
It’s not as simple as some would think. The team struggled with their first six games, trying to find their footing. One game stuck out for Stone, Price and Abdullah. It was their first game against Mt. SAC.
“A lot of people said we were a young team and we couldn’t produce,” said Abdullah, “some people said we wouldn’t be able to do what a more experienced team could do.” Well they won that game.
It was one win that seemed to linger in the players’ minds long after the game was over. “It was the one game where everyone went out and the equal goal was to win,” said Price.
“For some reason everyone was gelled. There wasn’t as much sound or talking on the van. We all had our game faces on,” added Abdullah.
The team placed second at the San Diego City Tournament out of 13 teams. They held on for as long as they could, juggling their classes, jobs and other things that college girls do. But they fell again to Mt. SAC the second time they faced them.
With this being her first year Silva has made quite the splash ending the season with an 11-11 record.
All of this is fuel for the fire in next season’s team, who are going to be put through the ringer as Athletic Trainer Rudy Aguilar will put the team through speed and agility training along with weight lifting. All the girls still seem to smile on that thought.
Coach Silva smirks a little when looking at the off-season, but can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. She still grins when thinking of her first season at PCC. “Never a dull moment,” she declared.