A new volleyball season is upon us, and like every season, that means some new faces on the court. At Mansfield Summit, it means a pair of very new faces, as a pair of freshmen have made the varsity roster.
“It was a surprise,” Summit coach Linda Alfaro said. “I knew they had some pretty good skills. I knew they were going to be good, but I didn’t know how good. So, it was a surprise. I was anticipating them on the JV team.”
Instead, Keyara “KeKe” Brooks and Sara Dyl both played their way into the varsity squad. Alfaro broke the news to the duo in a closed-door meeting.
“We walked out and hugged,” Dyl said. “We were both really excited; it was great.”
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It remains to be seen how much each will factor into the starting lineup or rotations, but Alfaro insists she doesn’t bring players up if they don’t stand the chance to play their way into significant court time. And if her comparison for Brooks is apt, it wouldn’t be at all surprising. Alfaro says KeKe reminds her in many ways of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
“She’s got those intangibles that as a coach you can just feel,” Alfaro said. “You can’t explain to people how they have those things, but they do. They’re both that way.”
Brooks is a setter, and insists it hasn’t been difficult forging chemistry with the hitters on the team.
“She has some qualities I haven’t seen in my setters in the past, even some of my best to come through Summit,” Alfaro said. “They just didn’t have it yet, and she has those things already.”
Dyl plays as a defensive specialist, and the first thing people seem to mention about her is the work ethic.
“I worked really hard to get where I am,” Dyl said. “I played a lot over the summer. I figured I might be on JV, but had a chance to make varsity. I just did the best I could, and when I got moved up to varsity I just kept working hard to make sure I did everything I could to stay on the team.”
Brooks and Dyl say they’ve been welcomed warmly by the upperclassmen, even if they do get stuck carrying equipment at times.
“She asks me every day how she can get better,” Alfaro said. “As a coach, you love those kinds of things. That’s what you want to hear.”
Both Brooks and Dyl say they’ve been welcomed warmly by the upperclassmen, even if they do still get stuck carrying equipment at times.
“Well, of course you have to do that,” Dyl joked. “But all of the upperclassmen are really supportive and really sweet. They’ve been nice about showing me the new rotations or new defenses and how I can fit in with the team. They’re just really helpful.”
“It’s not hard because they’re really nice and supportive,” Brooks added. “They know we would be struggling if we didn’t know what was going on, so they help us out.”
While teammates are going easy on them, opposing upperclassmen won’t be. But the freshmen maintain they’re thriving on the challenge of playing older girls.
“The game is a lot faster and a lot more thought-out,” Dyl said. “It’s really just about getting used to it, I think. It’s really fun to get that challenge and play up like this.”