Emily Blaettler is cherishing her final season of competitive volleyball. The San Benito High senior will most likely attend a four-year university next fall and as such is ready to call it a career from an athletic standpoint.
“Things will definitely be emotional, especially on Senior Night (Oct. 26),” she said. “Volleyball has meant so much to me and through the sport I’ve made a lot of new friends and relationships that will last beyond high school. I’ve learned so much from the sport such as cooperation and teamwork. I’ve learned to work with people and communicate, which doesn’t just help in sports but also outside of sports.”
The Haybalers entered the week with a 10-3 league record, good for second place in the Pacific Coast League’s Gabilan Division. Blaettler, a 6-foot-1 middle hitter, has been a key player for a team that didn’t compete at all in the Covid spring season. The last time San Benito had a season was in 2019, when Blaettler was a sophomore and playing on the junior varsity squad.
That’s why the 2021 season has been nothing short of spectacular for Blaettler, as it represents her only season on the varsity team since she lost her junior season to Covid.
“I felt like I really pushed myself this year and kind of challenged myself to really give it my all,” she said. “I was really looking forward to my junior year and to not get that chance to play varsity at that time really left a void. But knowing I would hopefully have a senior year of playing volleyball really pushed me to work hard and prepare for this year.”
Blaettler has made an impact with her ability to terminate the ball and block attacks. Like most effective middles, Blaettler is often successful when she is in rhythm and gets a quick set because the opposing block has a hard time timing their defense. Blaettler counts the team’s match against Carmel on Oct. 19 as the best she’s played all season.
“I had a lot of blocks and really felt like I focused on the other middle hitter and where they were going which helped me get a lot of those blocks,” she said. “I also got a lot of kills, which was really nice, too. Just had a good net game.”
In addition to Blaettler’s senior season being her only one on the varsity, it has come with something extra meaningful—the opportunity to play with her younger sister, Audrey, for the first time on the same team. Audrey is also a standout player on the team and the two have meshed well on and off the court.
“Playing with Audrey has been great,” Emily said. “It’s really strengthened our relationship and it’s really nice to have someone so close to me on and off the court. I’m able to talk about plays with her and we’re able to help and support each other, and it’s really nice to have that. We both started volleyball in middle school and saw each other get better, and I’m really grateful for that.”
Sports Editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org