By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Staff writer
ALHAMBRA.–It’s no secret that it’s been an off year for Alhambra’s volleyball girls. With their overall record of 4 wins and 14 losses heading into Tuesday’s match against crosstown rival Mark Keppel, the focus is already on rebuilding for success next year.
With that goal in mind, this story will have a somewhat unusual focus from the usual Rafu sports feature, as we look up into the tree from which the next apples will come, and meet a standout from the Moors’ Junior Varsity team.
Sophomore setter Tracy Yoshimizu is finishing her second year on Alhambra’s junior squad, and by all accounts has seen a steady improvement in her skills. Slender, agile and quick at around 5-foot-3, the 15-year-old has the ideal build for volleyball. She is clearly a gifted athlete, who also plays basketball and runs track for the Moors.
But it wasn’t the athletic prospects that initially led Yoshimizu to go out for volleyball.
“I like the sport,” Yoshimizu said at Monday’s team practice, “But I think I do it because, starting as a freshman, I didn’t know too many people and I thought joining the team would be a good way to make friends. It’s something we can do together.”
Before high school, Yoshimizu auditioned her volleyball skills at a Tigers clinic, with enough success to convince her to make the step up to prep play.
Megan Teramoto, a member of Alhambra’s coaching staff and herself a former Moors star, said she has known Yoshimizu from the time the sophomore was a little girl.
“She’s very athletic and a hard worker, but she’s a little shyer and passive than we would like her to be,” Teramoto said.
Indeed, if the team is going to retool for next season, the preparation begins now, and step one is to find the player who is going to make things happen on the court. For Yoshimizu to make the expected jump to Varsity, she is simply going to need to bring more fire to her game.
“A setter is like a point guard or quarterback,” Teramoto explained. “They’ve got to control, to regulate the offense. We want her to be more boisterous and loud, but that’s not really in her personality at this point. We’re working on it, because she’s a good player.”
Yoshimizu acknowledged that she needs to be a little louder, a bit more forceful, if she hopes to move up to the senior team next year.
“I need to continue with my other sports and maybe learn from there, to be more aggressive,” she said, adding that she’s always been a bit shy.
She should have plenty of opportunity to find the fire as this school year progresses. When basketball season gets underway, she will be at point guard for Alhambra–a position that demands leadership–and running the mile and two-mile for the track team should toughen her stamina.
Yoshimizu is not lacking for support, either. Her parents, Jan and Daniel, attend most if not all her basketball and volleyball games. Her older sister, Dana, ran track and played hoops for the Moors as well. She is also flashing fortitude in the classroom, consistently posting As and Bs in her classes.
With Yoshimizu one of only two returnees from last year’s JV team, Teramoto is hoping this season of learning will translate into a cadre of seasoned players who will gel on the court in 2011. For Yoshimizu, that will mean finding a little spark.
“She has to be more aggressive. Her skills will develop as a player, but she needs to turn up the volume a little. She needs to show that she wants it more than the other girls,” Teramoto said.
Alhambra’s girls volleyball teams wrap up their season this Thursday with matches at Schurr High School.