Four Santa Clarita Valley volleyball players were named to an All-CIF team, as announced by the CIF-Southern Section on Monday.
West Ranch’s Allison Jacobs, Santa Clarita Christian School’s Vanessa Gracia and Trinity Classical Academy’s Paige Kim and Nicole Amoroso each were honored in their respective divisions.
Jacobs made the list in Division 3 after capping her senior year with a team-leading 381 kills and added 21 blocks and 169 digs.
“Definitely, I think I’ve reached a new high point in my career that I don’t think I would ever get to,” Jacobs said.
The senior has been working with coach Jamey Ker since her sophomore year to improve her physical skill, but more so her mental abilities. Ker’s expectations of Jacobs helped her fulfill her potential as a prep volleyball player. He pushed her to be good 100 percent of the time, not just 99 percent.
Even in games when she wasn’t good 100 percent of the time, it was still an experience she could take something from.
“I just take it as a moment for learning and a challenge to get that one percent better,” Jacobs said. “If you do get that one percent better, you’ll earn more respect from your teammates. I take it as a challenge for sure.”
Jacobs committed to UCLA in 2017 and signed her NLI in November, but she began her college search when she was in the seventh grade. At the time, she was playing soccer and volleyball. But when she started to get offers for volleyball as a freshman, she decided to give up soccer.
Choosing volleyball has been good for Jacobs and the West Ranch program, which tied for first place this season with Hart in the Foothill League. The Wildcats continued into the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs and made it to the second round, where they fell to Paloma Valley in five games.
Although the team had a good playoff run, Jacobs was more pleased with how the Cats came together to win games.
“Towards the end of the season, we were a true unit on the court and it didn’t matter what we thought of each other off the court,” Jacobs said. “We were a serious team working as a cohesive machine. It was just so cool to see us all come together at the end.”
The Cardinals’ Gracia was named All-CIF in Division 8. The senior had a breakout year at the libero position after putting in some extra work in the offseason.
She was able to battle for, and ultimately win, the starting spot at libero.
“It ultimately comes down to having a good work ethic and wanting to work hard and always have a good attitude when you go into the gym,” Gracia said. “If you only rely on skill then what’s the point of having a bad leader who is really good at volleyball when you can have a person who is good at volleyball and has a really good leadership mindset?”
SCCS finished the season in third place in the Heritage League with a 9-3 league record and 19-7-1 overall record. The Cards earned an automatic bid to playoffs and reached the quarterfinals, but were bested by St. Bernard.
“I feel like this year probably wasn’t our best year but it also wasn’t our worst year,” said Gracia. “We had a couple conversations on the team with different frustrations but in the end, we were able to pull it together and just be a family.”
Kim and Amoroso were each named All-CIF in Division 8 as well. The Knights had the longest CIF-SS playoff run of any team in the SCV, reaching the championship game against Oakwood. It was the longest run of any volleyball team in Trinity history.
The Knights lost in four games but played in two additional games in the CIF State Division V tournament.
“The fact that we all clung together and really kind of solidified our bond as a team and as a family, that was something really cool to see and also making school history with this group of girls, especially.”
Amoroso also felt that the Knights made strides from the beginning of the season to become a stronger team.
“Our first tournament of the season, I remember coming home and thinking ‘this season is not looking too good,’” she said. “We pulled through and how we clung to each other and how family-oriented we were, that’s always been our motto but it really clicked this year. We’re all good friends now and I think that’s really important for when we’re on the court.”