Abranches and Hernandez keep volleyball focused

Samantha Velasquez

This year’s varsity volleyball team may not have met their own expectations, but through ups and downs they managed to show their JV and freshman squads the real meaning of team. The reason for the high spirits – despite the team’s final 2-18 record – are senior captains Jackie Abranches and Ashley Hernandez. 

 “I love the girls on the team,” Abranches said. “Everyone is really friendly and close. I’m going to miss that part the most.” 

Hernandez said the same, and couldn’t help but recall the challenges that forced the core of this team to bond. 

“This year, the team was way different from last year because we have all known each other since sophomore year,” she said. “During that time [Covid], we became closer. We are, like, always there for each other.”  

This season was stressful for both captains because they had to keep the morale of the team high after their losses.

“We’re trying to hype each other up by telling each other ‘pick up’ or ‘reset,’” Hernadez stated. “We usually sit down and talk about our last game and what we could’ve improved.”

Though the losses were tough on the team, the captains left most matches feeling good after team-wide postgame meetings. 

“I think my favorite thing about this team, honestly, is their energy and their bond together,” head coach Jen Spayne said. “They all bring something different to the table and what one person doesn’t bring, the other one does. They do balance each other out.” 

That starts with Abranches, an outside hitter, and Hernandez, a libero. 

“They are an awesome balance,” Spayne said. “I think Jackie brings Ashley out of her shell and Ashley toughens Jackie up. I tell them all the time: I’ve never had two captains that make me so proud.”

Abranches often sets what Spayne calls “the vibe,” while Hernandez brings the hustle and the accountability. 

“Jackie is a huge asset because she brings a lot of positive energy and holds people accountable for their actions,” Spayne said. “(Ashley) gives a little more of the tough love that I feel like we needed. She knows how to hustle like I’ve never seen and she will hype up her teammates and help wherever necessary.” 

They will certainly be missed, and their influence ensures that the program will continue to give its all for the foreseeable future.