Caitlin Miller grew up playing soccer until she found a sport she truly fell in love with—volleyball.
The Hollister High senior started playing volleyball as an eighth-grader in part because her older sister, former Haybalers standout Nicole Miller, played the sport.
“I would always watch my sister play in her club season and once I started on a rec-team, I fell in love with it and quit soccer (a couple of years later),” Caitlin said.
Nicole, incidentally, is a sophomore playing beach volleyball at Concordia University in Irvine. Caitlin is still undecided about playing in college, so she’s making the most of her final season in high school. As an outside hitter, Miller has actually been recording more kills from the back row.
Miller counts that as her individual highlight of the season because of her improved ability to produce points with swings from the back.
“This year I think I finally have got that under control and been consistent with it,” she said. “I can take that full approach and get my full swing in, and I feel like that’s where I’m very strong. Obviously, hitting in the front row is really fun for me also, but we have struggled with passing and when the pass is not good, sets can’t be good.”
As a result, Miller said she’s taking advantage of opportunities to hit from the back row. Hollister entered the week at 4-5 in the Pacific Coast Athletic League’s Gabilan Division and is looking to finish the season strong.
If the Haybalers end up with a .500 record in league, they’ll have a decent shot of earning a spot in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Miller said the team was most happy after a five-set victory over Santa Catalina on Sept. 22. Winning a match that went the distance was just what the doctor ordered for the Balers, who had a rough start to their season due to a variety of issues. But against Santa Catalina, Hollister was on point and showed something it hadn’t all year.
“I feel like that was the first time our team came together to work and keep pushing,” she said. “Once we hit that fourth set, I could tell everyone was really tired. So I was really proud of the team pushing through and winning and finishing. Coach (Lisa Becerra) was super happy because that is what she was looking for. We fought the whole time.”
Miller said Annie Fleming—a right side, middle blocker and outside hitter—has been excelling offensively, while Maya Rosette has been a standout at libero.
“Maya in the back row has been amazing,” Miller said. “She’s been picking up short balls and keeping our points going, and I told coach I love playing with Maya because she is so talkative and communicates and calls the ball. It’s really easy to play with her on the court because I can trust her and know she always has my back.”
Before entering high school, Miller played club ball with current teammates Audrey Blaettler, Shaylynn Monteon and Cassidy Bloomquist.
“That was good because we already had a relationship going into the high school volleyball season,” she said.
Miller, who plays all the way around because of her solid passing skills, is proud of the team coalescing after a rough start to the season.
“When we started out, we had three players who were injured, another one was sick and another one with a long-term injury,” she said. “So everything was kind of all over the place. But once we got mostly everyone back, we started to figure things out and started playing together. We worked on our on and off the court communication, and then the games and practices became more fun and enjoyable for everyone.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]