Playing both club and school volleyball, freshman grows in her skills

October 18, 2022 — by Divya Vadlakonda
Photo by Jena Lew
Freshman Jena Lew blocks the ball during a game against Milpitas on Sept. 22.
After picking up the sport as a hobby in middle school, freshman Jena Lew has expanded to playing club volleyball alongside the school team.

Sweat dripped down freshman outside hitter Jena Lew’s face as she received a serve from Homestead’s volleyball team earlier this season, the enthusiastic cheers of her teammates ringing loud from the sidelines.

This is just one of dozens of memories from her season as a key contributor to the JV team.

Lew was introduced to volleyball in fourth grade at a volleyball summer camp, and mentors there were influential in her decision to take up the sport. 

“There was a really tall volleyball player who was teaching us and she inspired me,” Lew said. “I thought she was really cool and made me feel like I might want to start [the sport] later.”

Fostering the hobby throughout her years in Redwood Middle School, she started playing volleyball in sixth grade but got more serious in eighth grade, making the school’s varsity team. Though the coach was strict, he taught her the rules of volleyball and was significant in establishing her love for the sport. 

In 2020, Lew started playing club volleyball at Stingray Volleyball Club. She joined the 13s last year, a team composed of players from 12 to 13 years old, and is planning to try out for the 14s team, with players from 13 to 14 years old. Being part of the club team gave her a chance for more experience, even earning her an award last year for winning her team’s bracket.

She said club volleyball isn’t too time consuming and has a manageable number of practices and games, sometimes presenting opportunities to travel to places like Reno and Sacramento for tournaments. Because the players in club volleyball have some form of prior experience, it pushes her to do better.

In August, she joined the JV team. Although the team has created a healthy environment, there is still pressure on the players during games, and her teammates are a constant source of support for her. 

“You have to trust [teammates] and you also have to have some trust in yourself,” Lew said. “You have to depend on yourself for a lot of stuff, but having your teammates there to support you is helpful.”

The team’s after-school practices have been a big factor for her improvement. Particularly, she has progressed in passing and serving throughout the years as well as with her consistency.

“I plan to keep playing club volleyball and school volleyball throughout high school, and then maybe try to get recruited,” Lew said. “I’m excited to see where this takes me.”

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