High-SchoolVolleyball: California volleyball

Cosy's Corner: Go camping

July, 31, 2012
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a top 2013 volleyball recruit from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She plays outside hitter and opposite for La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego. She has competed in the California State Finals and at Nationals for the past five years. She recently committed to play for BYU. In the latest installment of her blog, she runs down the benefits of attending college camps.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
Going to college volleyball camps is an amazing experience. It’s a great way to get noticed by coaches, get a feel for the school and meet some great new volleyball-loving friends. You will play about eight hours of volleyball per day, so come prepared to work hard and be sore. There are players of all different levels, so try not to compare yourself to others. Just focus on your own game.

Meet the head coaches
Make sure you introduce yourself to the head coach at the beginning of camp if you want them watching you. You can get a really good feel for the coach at camp. I like to watch how coaches treat their players, their recruits and the little kids. Watching the coach at camp may help you decide whether the program is a good fit for you.

Wear a bright headband or something else to stand out in the crowd. It’s also a good idea to show your volleyball experience with your apparel, so wear you club shirt or your Junior Nationals or AAU shirt to show the coaches what kind of volleyball you play.

They are looking for your talent and athleticism, so don’t be afraid to show them. If you can put balls away, then let it rip! If you have some sweet setting hands, then lay out the sugar! If you are a digging phenomenon, then be loud and aggressive and pas it up! Also, coaches like to see what hitters can do with bad sets. They want to see how you handle yourself and your different shot ranges. Hitters, be prepared for this because often college camps will have a separate week for setters and, like I was one year, you may be stuck with a middle blocker setting the balls.

I talked to a couple top volleyball college coaches who run big camps every summer. Here is their advice on how to stand out from the hundreds of other girls at camp:

John Cook, head coach, University of Nebraska: Work hard, look coaches in the eye, be coachable and make adjustments.Talk and be a great teammate.

Tim Nollan, associate head coach, USC: There are three things to help you stand out to college coaches at camps. First, have a positive attitude. It may sound simple, but a positive attitude toward yourself and others is a trait coaches look for. Second, effort. Try the techniques the coaches are asking you to perform, even if they take you out of your comfort zone. Coaches are always looking for players who are trying to learn more about the game. Finally, enthusiasm. You have to provide a spark for your court. Encourage others and drive your court to be better. It’s a trait every coach loves.

BYU volleyball
Courtesy of the Burnett familyCosy Burnett poses with friends at the BYU sports camp dance.
Check out the school
You get to stay in the dorms, eat the dorm food and explore the campus. You’ll be there during summer, when it’s quiet, but you can still get a good feel for what the school is about.

Make lifelong friends
You will be surrounded by tons of other girls who love the same sport you do. Take advantage of that and make some great friends. Room with someone random. Pepper with people you don’t know and introduce yourself to everyone. Sit next to new people during lunch. I love going to national tournaments and seeing or playing against girls I met at camps.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on her thoughts on nationals – here.
By Walter Villa

Cesar MedinaCourtesy of Richard EdsonAs a senior, Cesar Medina led Jordan (Los Angeles) in aces, kills, kill-percentage and blocks.

It’s an unlikely place to find a volleyball star -- one that his club coach calls “the Spanish Karch Kiraly” -- but almost everything about Cesar Medina’s story is unusual.

Medina’s neighborhood of South Los Angeles is one of the roughest in the country.

To get to and from Jordan High School -- which sits between two housing projects -- Medina will typically walk through gang turf and witness drug use, illegal gambling and other crimes.

There’s little refuge inside Medina’s home, either. His parents have one room, and his three siblings share the other. Cesar sleeps on a mattress in the living room.

In the past, it was difficult for him to get to sleep before 3 a.m. because of all the noise and activity going on in his house, which explains why he had to repeat the ninth grade.

Medina rarely made it to class.

“It wasn’t like I was ditching,” said Medina, a 6-foot outside hitter with phenomenal leaping ability. “I’m a heavy sleeper, and I couldn’t get to school.”

Still, Medina is accountable for what transpired his first two years of high school, when he attended Fremont (Los Angeles), and he did much better in his junior and senior seasons at Jordan.

‘He’s an innocent’

But Ed DeGrasse, who has served as Medina’s club coach for the Pio Pico Middle School team the past couple of years, said the obstacles his player faces on a daily basis would have overwhelmed most people.

Jordan volleyball
Courtesy of Jordan VillaCesar Medina says he's learned his lesson after poor grades forced him to miss the first two years of high school volleyball.
“He’s an innocent and very naive,” DeGrasse said. “If I could adopt him and take him out of there, I would.”

On weekends, DeGrasse drives 30 miles out of his way to pick up Medina for club matches. DeGrasse arrives at Medina’s home before the sun rises and bangs on the aluminum-foil-encased windows until someone comes to the door.

“It’s a sad situation,” DeGrasse said. “But as much as I may not like where Cesar lives, that’s his home. He probably wouldn’t be too upset if he lived his life there because that’s all he knows.”

Medina said he wants to go to a four-year college, but because he had a 1.0 GPA halfway through high school, he has no such offers. A junior college may be his best bet.

One reason Medina has gone under the radar for so long is that his high school didn’t allow him to play until he got his grades up, which finally happened in time for his junior season.

“It’s embarrassing, and I regret it,” Medina said. “School is not that hard. You just have to show up and do the work.

“Looking back on it, I could have done it and played all four years; it’s a lesson learned.”

A star is born

Once he became eligible -- he has a 3.0 GPA the past two years -- Medina was easily the most dominant force on his team, according to Jordan coach Manny Nunez.

“He’s very aggressive and competitive,” Nunez said. “He wants to mash the ball every time, and he hit quite a few facials [off of opponents].”

He'll rip your head off. The ball comes at you so fast, you can't see it coming. He hits with such violence.

-- PPMS coach Ed DeGrasse
DeGrasse said Medina is humble and polite -- except when he is on the court.

“He’ll rip your head off,” DeGrasse said. “The ball comes at you so fast, you can’t see it coming. He hits with such violence.”

DeGrasse, who played Division I volleyball at Cal State Northridge and competed against men who went on to play in the Olympics, said Medina is the best talent he’s ever seen.

The comparison to Kiraly -- made by DeGrasse -- is attention-grabbing but seemingly unrealistic.

Kiraly is perhaps the biggest legend the sport of volleyball has ever produced, and Medina is an 18-year-old kid from the slums who learned the sport by playing against men on the dirt/cement courts at Roosevelt Park in South L.A.

Still, it’s interesting to note that there isn’t a single player on the U.S. men’s volleyball national team who looks or sounds like Medina, who is of Mexican descent.

Medina’s size is also different because there are few, if any, examples of a 6-foot outside hitter making it big in men’s volleyball.

For instance, UC Irvine, which won the national title this year in men’s volleyball, did it with outside hitters ranging from 6-2 to 6-8. And the U.S. national team uses players as tall as 6-10 at the position.

That, however, doesn’t deter DeGrasse from believing in Medina.

“He rarely gets blocked,” DeGrasse said. “He can go up in the air, look, survey the court and change his shot. He’s an exceptionally smart hitter.”

A record season

At Jordan this past season, Medina led his team in kills (489), kill-percentage (71.7), aces (95) and blocks (55). He was also second in digs (330).

With Medina leading the way, Jordan (38-6-1) set a school record for wins. The Bulldogs also went 22-1-1 down the stretch before losing 3-0 to Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach) in the Division 2 state semifinals.

Mira Costa, by the way, had six Division I players on its roster and finished No. 2 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings.

Medina was also the L.A. City Section Division 2 Player of the Year for two seasons in a row and leaves Jordan as the school’s career leader in kills.

“It feels good to make history,” Medina said. “It shows how hard our team worked. We had eight seniors, and it felt like every time we practiced, we had this chemistry.”

Medina is now attending summer school and is still trying to improve his grades. He has an offer to play volleyball and soccer -- some say he is just as gifted in that sport -- at Cerritos College, a two-year school in Norwalk, Calif.

“He’s done a lot for L.A. city volleyball,” DeGrasse said. “Ever since I saw him play at age 15, I’ve been infatuated with his game. He is a self-taught street player, but he’s phenomenal.

“People might say, ‘Wow, DeGrasse has given this kid so many chances.’ But I just can’t give up on his talent.”
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she salutes all those special volleyball dads -- especially her own.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
My dad has always supported me.

When I was 8, he was the one who brought me out to the backyard and onto the sports court and made my arms bright red from so many volleyball “bumps.” I remember going back into the house with the veins in my arms popping out thinking “volleyball really hurts.”

He was the one who got me volleyball private lessons at age 11, which helped me barely make the lowest volleyball team for my age group at the best club. He believed in me.

Every September, my dad sits down with me and he helps me make reachable goals for the school year. He helps me have confidence.

When I was 12, he bought me a big blue board and told me to write down goals, and make myself a “vision board.” It changed my life. My dad explained that I should make a collage of pictures to illustrate what I want in life. Then every morning when I wake up and see those images, they will become cemented in my mind. I covered that blue board with my dreams: a baby blue convertible Bentley, an Abercrombie & Fitch model (as my future man), exotic places, my dream home, pictures of Jesus (to keep my faith) and photos of BYU volleyball. I had that vision board on my wall facing my bed, so every morning I woke up to my dreams.

Cosy Burnett
Courtesy of Cosy BurnettCosy Burnett says her vision board changed her life.
Years have passed and new boards have replaced the old ones, but I recently found my first vision board in the back of my closet. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the pictures and realized how right my dad was. I have already achieved a dream that my skinny, awkward 12-year-old self wouldn’t have thought possible. I will play volleyball for BYU!!

Whether it’s how to get a full ride to my dream school, pump me up, calm me down, or be there for me when I simply need someone to talk to, my dad is there.

It’s time to honor our volleyball dads. They cheer for us, they embarrass us, they believe in us, they fight for us and they sacrifice for us.

Here’s what some volleyball players in the SoCal Region have to say to their dads:

“To Brian, You are one of the most incredible people I have ever met. Thank you, Pops, for being at every 7 a.m. tournament and for teaching me what it means to be a genuinely good person. You've set a great example, and I only hope that one day I can turn out to be half the person you are. I love you and will miss you so much next year!” – Yale-bound Karlee Fuller, Wave 18-1, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

“To Ken, Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for always coming to my matches and cheering for me.” -- Sarah Kramer, T-Street 17-Troy, Rosary (Fullerton, Calif.)

“To Jim, Thanks, Dad, for always cheering me on! I love you!” -- Courtney Crosby, T-Street 17-Troy, Los Alamitos (Calif.)

“To Kenny, Thanks for all the support you always give me. I love you!” -- Kalysta White, T-Street 17-Troy, Laguna Beach (Calif.)

To Jimmy, Thank you for all the support and always cheering me on. I can always hear, “Dominate the net, Brookie!’” -- Brooke Legaux, T-Street 17-Troy, Tesoro (Las Flores, Calif.)

“To Dave, Happy Father’s Day and thanks for everything you do for me! Love, Ash” --Ashley Swatek, Club West 18-Nat, Ayala (Chino Hills, Calif.)

“To Oscar, I love you so much, Daddy!” -- Taylor Scott, Club West 18-Nat, Claremont (Calif.)

“To Ron, Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for all the support you give me. Because of you, I am able to play the game I love!” -- Lauren Miller, Coast 17-1, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Jeff, Happy Father’s Day and thanks for all the support you give me. I love you!” --Krissy Witous, Coast 17-1s, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Mike, Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you so much and thanks for everything! You are really an amazing Dad!” -- Sydney Francis, Coast 17-1s, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

“To Derek, Thank you for all your support! I love you and hope you have a great Father’s Day. You’re the best!” -- Breanna Barksdale, Coast 17-1, Eastlake (Chula Vista, Calif.)

“Happy Father’s Day, Charlie! I love you!” -- Christian Jones, T-Street 17-Troy, Los Alamitos (Calif.)

“To David, Thank you so much for supporting me at every game. It means so much! Happy Father’s Day! I love you!” -- Kelly Boutelle, Coast 17-1, Bishop’s (La Jolla, Calif.)

“To Chris, Happy Father’s Day, Papa! I love you!” -- Caterina Rosander, Coast 17-1, Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Mark, Thank you for supporting me in every sport I do! You’re the best and I love you! Happy Father’s Day!” -- Lexi Reddick, Coast 17-1, Del Norte (San Diego, Calif.)

“To Michael, Thank you so much for always supporting me in volleyball and riding! Happy Father’s Day! I love you!” -- Claire Manhard, Coast 17-1, Bishops (La Jolla, Calif.)

“To Bill, Thanks so much for being a great dad! You have always been so supportive to me! Happy Father’s Day! I love you!” -- Marin Longfellow, Coast 17-1, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.)

"To Dennis, I love you Dad! Thanks for sitting through the long tournaments and helping me with my volleyball recruiting video. You are so supportive, loving and always know how to make me laugh. Thank you for setting an excellent example for me by working so hard at everything you do.” -- Alex Visser, EPIC 18-1, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.)

Happy Father’s Day to our great dads! We couldn’t do it without you!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – on rookie sensation Breanna Barksdale – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, her fellow players wish their moms a Happy Mother's Day.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
Volleyball moms are the best. They are special women who sacrifice so much. They are working moms who use their precious vacation days to go to tournaments. They are stay-at-home moms with multiple kids balancing it all. They are single moms. They are all supermoms.

Last year during AP testing, finals and preparing for nationals, prom decided to come along. I had a date, but no dress, and was in a state of serious panic to find one. I did not have a single hour to search for that perfect dress. So I did what any girl would do -- I put my head down and cried, thinking, “I guess I could just wear jeans.”

The next day I stumbled into my room at 8 p.m., exhausted and spent. I flipped on my light and was shocked. I looked around my room and jumped up and down. Hanging on anything that would hold a hanger were over a dozen beautiful dresses! Each one was different and had a pair of shoes to go with it. My mom had brought the store to me when I couldn't go myself. Needless to say, I found the perfect dress and didn't have to wear jeans. It wouldn't have happened without my amazing mom.

At a SoCal tournament over the weekend, I asked my teammates and some other volleyball girls to share their thoughts on their volleyball moms. This is what I got:

“My mom cheers for me, makes sure I’m well rested, and I know she loves me when she wakes up before 5 a.m. to go to my tournaments -- so lucky to call her mom.” -- Krissy Witous, Coast 17-1

“As a little girl whenever someone asked me who my role model was, it was never a famous baseball player or scientist, it was always my mom. There is no one in the world I could give more credit to as a caretaker, a role model and my best friend. I love you, Mom.” -- Caterina Rosander, Coast 17-1

“My mom is my best friend. I love her with all my heart. She is always there for me through thick and thin and has always been my No. 1 advocate when it comes to volleyball and life. I don't know what I would do without her. She's the first person I go to when I'm sad and she is my favorite person in the world. I love you, Mom!” -- Sydney Francis, Coast 17-1

“My mom is always there for me no matter what. She cheers for me and makes sure I’m wide awake before I play. She’s my biggest supporter.” -- Marin Longfellow, Coast 17-1

“Having a mom like mine means the world. She is always there when I need her. Waking up early for tournaments isn’t easy, but she is always ready to go. We have a good time together and she picks me up when I’m down. I love her so much." -- Victoria Dennis, Club West 18-1

“My mom has been a great volleyball mom for eight years now. She has sacrificed so much for me and supports me no matter what. She is the first one to comfort me after a good or bad game. I appreciate and love her so much.” -- Lauren Miller, Coast 17-1

“Having a mom like mine is hard to come by. She’s a firefighter’s wife and mother of three athletes. She makes so many sacrifices, like driving me to practice two hours each way 3-4 times per week, on top of working. ... She is a supermom.” -- Morgan Collet, TCA 18-Black

“My mommy has been the best mom ever and I am so fortunate to be given her by God. (I don’t know if she feels the same way.) She is my hero. Being a single mom is an arduous task and she makes it look easy.” -- Erika Conners, Coast 17-1

“My mom has woken up early to take me to tournaments, drove me to practice and even got a job to help pay for all the fees for me and my sister. Even with four kids, she makes it a priority to come to everything she can and support me. I love her and would not be the same without her.” -- Karly Shockey, Club West 18-1

“My mommy is always there to support me through my experiences. It’s amazing to know I have a special person in my life who will always be by my side whether it’s at the volleyball court or hanging out at home. Being a stay-at-home mom, she is with me 24/7. She is the best friend and best mom I could ever ask for.” -- Breanna Barksdale, Coast 17-1

“My mom is always there for me, sacrificing her time and money so I can play. She is my No. 1 fan.” -- Rachel Seals, Club West 18-1

“My mom makes volleyball fun by supporting me and watching me play. She always makes sure I have everything for practice and tournaments. Love you, Mom!” -- Lexi Reddick, Coast 17-1

“I can’t thank my mom enough for the countless hours she has spent in gyms, the long drives and the best salads. She is always there, the loudest fan for the team. She may not know the game well, but she pushes us to win. I don’t know what I would do without her.” -- Missy Pittard, Solana Beach 18-1

“My mom is here always cheering me on. She wakes up early, even on her days off from work, makes me food and comes to every tournament.” -- Jené Lee, Club West 17-1

“My mom makes my volleyball experience fun by always being the loudest person on the sidelines cheering for me and my team. She makes sure I have all my stuff, including food and water. She is the best mom ever and I love her to death.” -- Raena Borcuk, Club West 17-1

“My mom constantly cheers for and supports me. She never complains about getting up early and supplies me with endless amounts of food and drink. Love you, Mom!” -- Claire Manhard, Coast 17-1

We notice all you do, moms. We appreciate and love you!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to prepare for junior year – here.
By Walter Villa

College volleyballCourtesy of Linda RacichCaitlin (from left), Tristan and Taylor Racich will all be playing college volleyball next fall. "Our family is real close," Taylor says. "It's going to be so fun this fall when we're all in college."

It wasn’t much of a net -- more suited for badminton than volleyball.

The court was neither sand nor wood – more like grass and dirt. And there was only one ball, which if spiked too hard would bounce over a seven-foot fence and fall into a creek full of poison oak.

The setup was humble, but it was also the training ground for four dedicated athletes from one talented family.

Starting this fall, the four Racich siblings will be competing for colleges in Southern California -- the three sisters in volleyball and their brother in water polo.

The two youngest in the group are twins Taylor and Tristan, who are 17-year-old seniors at Dos Pueblos (Goleta, Calif.). Taylor, a 6-foot-1 lefty opposite hitter, signed with Pepperdine. Tristan, a 5-10 setter, committed to Azusa Pacific earlier this month.

Caitlin, the oldest sibling at age 20, is a 6-1 junior and plays sand volleyball for Pepperdine.

Racich Family
Courtesy of Linda RacichChase Racich plays water polo for UC Santa Barbara.
Chase, 19, is a 6-2 freshman and a water polo standout at UC Santa Barbara, where he was third on the team in goals (28) last season.

“Our family is real close,” said Taylor, who also has a younger brother, Cole, 3. “I got a full ride (scholarship offer) from the University of Tennessee, but I wanted to see Cole grow up and be near home. It’s going to be so fun this fall when we’re all in college.”

It will be fun and hectic for their parents, Linda and Randy Racich. Linda said once the information becomes available from the colleges, she will produce a master schedule of the fall events, with all the games listed in team colors.

Taylor’s Pepperdine matches will be in orange, Chase’s UC Santa Barbara games in blue and Tristan’s Azusa Pacific events in red.

Caitlin’s sand volleyball matches, thankfully, are in the spring and won’t conflict with her siblings’ events.

“I’m really excited that my younger siblings can do the same thing I’ve done and be college student-athletes,” Caitlin said. “I can’t wait to see Taylor play at my school (Pepperdine). I also plan to make it out to Tristan’s matches and Chase’s games. I’ll try to go to as many games as I can.

“Who knows? Maybe Cole will have some T-ball games I can go to this fall.”

Linda said she and her husband will try to ensure that at least one parent is at every home match.

“We were always hoping our kids would stay close for college,” Linda said. “We love going to the games.”

Chase’s games are the easiest to get to -- the UC Santa Barbara campus is only 10 minutes from the Racich home.

Azusa Pacific is the longest drive -- one hour, 40 minutes -- and Pepperdine is 80 minutes away.

The Racich kids are following in the tradition of their maternal great grandfather, Greg Engelhard, who played baseball and basketball at Cal in the 1930s and went on to become that school’s athletic director.

Linda’s brother and sister played college sports and her husband, Randy, was a talented skier, surfer and baseball player. Randy’s father played football at the University of Colorado.

When Linda and Randy’s kids were young, they signed them up for every sport they could imagine. Chase, for example, played soccer, tennis and volleyball before settling on water polo.

But it was the backyard of their home -- the last house on a cul-de-sac -- where the kids really developed their competitiveness. With four kids all within a couple years of each other, it made for equitable two-on-two volleyball matches.

“After we got our homework done,” Chase said, “we usually had an hour before the sun went down to play volleyball.”

This fall, the twins -- Taylor and Tristan -- will split up for the first time.

“I’m going to miss her so much,” Tristan said. “She’s an amazing sister with such a positive outlook. We’ve been best buddies all our lives. We’ll just have to enjoy our moments together.”

While Taylor and Tristan will be splitting up, Taylor and Caitlin will be reuniting.

Next spring, Taylor and Caitlin will team up to compete in sand volleyball for Pepperdine. Taylor will play both indoor and sand.

Caitlin was an indoor starter for Pepperdine as a freshman, but -- after playing sparingly as a sophomore -- has since decided to focus on sand only.

She recently helped Pepperdine make its debut in sand volleyball, a first-year NCAA sport.

“It’s been the coolest experience,” said Caitlin, who played on the USA Beach Volleyball Youth National team in 2008 and 2009 and last year competed in the FIVB Junior World Beach Championships in Nova Scotia, Canada. “I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I still love indoor, but I’ve always had this passion for beach volleyball.”

Caitlin also has a passion for her family -- a feeling shared by her siblings.

“People always say: ‘Why do you guys love each other so much?’ ” Caitlin said. “They never see us get into conflicts.

“I don’t know why. We’re close in age, and we have a close bond. I just think we have a lot of love going.”
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shares her tips on how to make the most of your time on the bench.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
My first three years of playing club were spent on the bench. I once asked a high school coach whom I respected if it was better to play for a great team and sit on the bench or play for a lesser team and get the playing time. He thought for a while and said he was asked that question a lot. His answer was “Be the best player on the best team.” OK, thanks. I think.

No doubt it’s a very frustrating time. I learned a lot from my time on the bench and I want to share some hope to all you who may find yourselves warming the sidelines.

1. Remember, you are part of the team
You can contribute to your team’s success from the sidelines, and every award and victory the team achieves is also 100 percent yours. You work just as hard as everyone else and maybe even a little harder. Those reps you contribute at practice help make the team better as a whole.

2. Let recruiters know your situation
Before a big tournament, call the schools you are interested in and let them know to come and watch you during warm-ups. This may sound funny, but I did this and was surprised how many showed up. The warm-ups are your shot, so play hard.

3. Stand up and cheer
There is no need to sit on the sidelines with a long face. Go with it ... have fun! Teams feed off each other’s energy, and this is something you can do. If there is a big point, go crazy. Your teammates will feel your support and they will know you have their backs.

4. Communicate with your coach
Talk to your coach privately and make goals and benchmarks to earn more playing time. Find out how playing time is determined and make it clear that you are hungry. Then follow up with your coach to keep him or her honest. Your coach really does want you to play and to reach your potential – that’s why you are on the team.

5. Be positive
I can’t stress this enough. Just as you can be an asset to a team as a bencher, you can also be destructive. Do not talk badly about the coaches to other teammates. If your parents are supportive, great. If they overreact, be careful; it’s hard on them, too. It’s helpful to have a friend to vent to who knows nothing about volleyball. During the season, stay committed and positive to your team. When the season is over, it’s time to evaluate your goals. Be honest with yourself and move forward. If it’s club, you can always make a change. If it’s school, use club opportunities to improve for next season.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to stage a comeback – here.
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she shared her tips on how to stage a comeback.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
I want to write this week’s blog on how to be a “comeback team” when you find yourselves in a hole. At a recent tournament, we were playing the No. 1 seed and the first set was a battle. We won 26-24. In set No. 2, we were behind 11-22. Wow, so what’s the plan now? It’s tempting just to think “OK, let’s get the pain over ... we just need a new game.”


We ended up pulling off a 25-23 victory, and as I thought about how we did it, the following came to mind:

1. Be positive on the court
A positive attitude is a powerful thing. When you are positive, it not only makes playing the game more fun, but it also encourages play at the highest level. So especially when you are behind, it is vital to stay positive. When you tell your libero to “shake it off” when she missed that crucial pass or your hitter that she made a good swing even though it sailed out of bounds, you are sending a vibe to your team that says, “I know you’ll get the next one.” It’s when teams start to doubt themselves, blame each other and roll their eyes that their teammates begin to lose confidence and make silly errors that come from nerves and anxiety.

2. Change it up
Our setter changed up the momentum with two immediate dumps, which threw the other side off. It’s the time to throw in a daring play to make that amazing kill, huge block or a bullet ace. The momentum shifts, and then it’s “rally time.” More often than not, teams begin to relax and lose their focus when they have a huge lead, and it’s the perfect time to step up your game, take a risk, attack with full force and get a run of points.

3. Keep your head
My teammate was able to make 11 bombing serves in a row. In order to make a comeback, you need to make your serves. Just relax, smile, focus and enjoy. This is why you have spent all those hours in the gym. You can do it.

4. Play to win
No matter the score, don’t play “not to lose.” Keep hitting those balls as hard as you can and go for the kill every time. Don’t be timid. I would rather have my teammate bomb a daring line shot than have her hit scared in order to not make a mistake. You won't be earning your team any points by giving free balls. “Going for it” is respecting yourself. You are telling yourself and everyone else in the gym that you won't give up without a fight.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to eat like a champion – here.
By Walter Villa

Los Alamitos volleyball Josh HolmbergCrissy Jones may enjoy the thrill of the block more than anything else in volleyball. "It's great to know you have stopped their best shot and have gotten into their heads," she says.
POSTSEASON AWARDS: Freshman of the Year | Coach of the Year | ESPNHS All-America Team | Gatorade State Players of the Year

If you’ve ever seen Crissy Jones play, you’ve no doubt noticed her exuberance.

After a kill or some other big play, the Los Alamitos (Calif.) star will dive on both her knees, raise both her fists and shout at the top of her lungs.

“Her fire is contagious,” said Justine Wong-Orantes, Los Al’s junior setter. “If they gave an award for ‘most energetic,’ she would definitely get it.”

Actually, the award Jones has won is the ESPNHS Sophomore of the Year.

Jones, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker, had 259 kills, 93 blocks and a .472 hitting percentage to lead Los Al (37-4) to a CIF Southern Section Division II-A championship over Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.).

On match point, Jones blocked Newport Harbor star Cinnamon Sary for the winner.

“Crissy was the first one to go down (in celebration),” Wong-Orantes said. “And we all jumped on top of her.”

Los Al finished 20th in the final POWERADE FAB 50 national rankings, losing a four-set match to Marymount (Los Angeles, Calif.) in the CIF Southern California Division I regional final.

After graduating 10 seniors from this year’s team, Los Al coach Dave Huber will be able to reload with Jones and Wong-Orantes as building blocks.

Jones, in particular, brings a lot of energy, Huber said.

“She plays with a ton of passion and is very physical,” said Huber, who just completed his fifth season running the Los Al program. “She can control the game at the net with her blocking, and she puts the ball away with power on offense.

“And when we get a point, she is the first to celebrate. She is very emotional and not shy at all. She will get fired up, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the first point or the last.”

Jones said she gets a “rush of adrenaline” from a block.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s great to know you have stopped their best shot and have gotten into their heads.”

Jones has certainly gotten into the heads of numerous colleges, judging by her shoebox full of scholarship offers. It started with the Washington Huskies when she was in eighth grade and has grown from there.

Jones has yet to pick a college destination, but says she prefers to not venture any farther east than Texas.

It would seem that California schools will have a strong shot at signing her because she loves the water and beach volleyball.

Then again, Jones has other interests as well. Her favorite subject is French and she enjoys snowboarding.

“I’m outgoing,” Jones said when asked to describe herself. “I just like having fun and being young.”