Volleyball: Following in older sister’s path, Risa Carter keeps struggling squad in contention

September 24, 2018 — by Oliver Ye and Jun Lee

Junior Risa Carter follows 2018 alumni Riley Carter's footsteps, leading the girls' volleyball team to CCS.

Diving across the court to pick up an especially tricky tip, and then immediately scrambling to get up, Junior right side hitter Risa Carter called for a set, jumped high and smashed the ball past the Lynbrook blockers and down onto the ground. She pumped her arms in the air, encouraging her teammates as they went in for their group cheer. With Carter’s efforts as a mother figure, the Falcons won the tough battle against Lynbrook High 2-1.

With a record of 4-8, Carter has been a source of optimism this year for the girls, keeping their hopes at a CCS appearance alive.

The past five years of her volleyball career have helped enhance not only her skills, but also her leadership. Faced with the loss of many key players graduating or leaving this year, such as Riley Carter, Dasha Gousseva, Hannah Fan, Belle Strawn, Paige Hansen, and Michelle Vu, the team has struggled a bit in the competitive El Camino Division.

However, Risa has stepped up to help the team, cheering her teammates up and cracking jokes get over problems smoothly. “Risa is probably the funniest person I’ve met, and to have her on our team really brightens our mood,” junior setter Lauren Hansen said.

Carter started playing volleyball when she was in middle school, in part due to the influence of her sister, 2018 alumni Riley Carter, who is now playing the sport at USC.

“[Riley] played volleyball when she was in middle school, and I watched her become a really good volleyball player, so I was inspired to start playing too,” Risa said.

Risa started playing volleyball as a sixth grader in Redwood Middle School’s volleyball team. Since then, volleyball has become an essential part of her life.

Though she joined the school team since in middle school, it wasn’t easy to become a good player with her level of skill.

“I was not the best volleyball player for sure when I was in sixth grade, but through practice, I have definitely improved,” Risa said.

Risa has also joined clubs outside of the school to become a better player, not only for herself but also for her team. she has tried to focus on her leadership in order to help the team more bonded, making her one of the key players on the team.

“She is super supportive and uplifting, which helps out the other players when we don’t feel very confident,” junior libero Lauren Hansen said. “We’ve played together since middle school and on competitive teams, and she’s just such a genuine person.”

The girls lost their first match against Los Gatos 3-0 on Aug. 24 but fought hard to win their next matches 3-2 against Scotts Valley on Aug. 27 and 3-1 against Kings Academy on Aug. 29. However, with key players such as hitter Riley Carter graduating last year and libero Michelle Vu leaving due to jaw surgery, the team has taken a substantial hit to their overall attack and defense.

While the team has not been doing so well so far, Risa is still focused on improving the team and creating bonds between players, seeing the season more as a “team building year.” The teammates said she’s not too worried about the losses.

As an experienced player, Carter is mainly looking forward to having a good time this season with other “varsity players that will definitely rise up, especially sophomore players.” One of her goals for this season is to provide a comfortable environment for other players so they can find their positions.

“I really hope the team becomes really connected for next year, because we are trying to move up a league or a division,” Risa said. “From that league, we could make CCS and have a really good season.”

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