While injuries plague just about any team during the course of a full season, sometimes those who fill in and increase their level of play can make everyone forget that a star was injured in the first place.
Whittier Christian outside hitter Deanna Blaine has always made an impact for her team, but with fellow outside hitter Kylee Wolfe out with a nagging shoulder injury, Deanna knew it was time to play a bigger role and she turned in a dominant week.
“I know that some of our players are hurt, so I knew this was my chance to step up,” she said. “It was a chance for me to lead the team and do my job as a senior, to encourage my teammates and be a strong hitter.”
The senior devastated opposing defenses with 38 total kills in two matches, including 22 in a four-set match against Rancho Cucamonga at home, last Thursday.
In addition to her powerful swings, Deanna has been a big part of the back line and has also provided a huge boost with her serving as she continues to progress at Whittier Christian.
“She’s done a great job and she’s really come into her own as far as her offense is concerned,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “She’s always been good with ball control and defense and she’s always been an aggressive offensive player, but now she’s taking that aggressiveness and putting the ball in the right place at the same time and that’s difficult for opposing defenses to handle.”
As a three-year starter, Deanna brings plenty of experience to the table, but she says her main points for success are keeping a positive mindset and striving to be consistent.
So when the Lady Heralds started this season with a loss at Los Osos, Deanna realized that they faced a good team, but tried to keep spirits up.
“Even though we lost, I was still confident in the team,” she said. “They were good, they’re a strong team, but we won CIF last year, we’re still a really great team. I thought that even though we lost that match, it didn’t change who we are, it just woke us up.”
In addition to that mindset, Deanna works hard in practice to further develop her skills.
Again, the word consistency comes to mind as her coach recognizes the effort level being put in every day.
“It’s been progressive, there hasn’t been a moment where all of a sudden it showed,” Hunter said. “She’s always had a great volleyball mind and great court vision, she’s just been developing over time.”
Because of her efforts in practice and in matches, Deanna has committed verbally to Loyola Marymount University.
The decision has made her season that much easier, giving her one less thing to worry about while she’s out challenging opposing back lines.
“The environment feels homely there, it’s not completely like school, it’s happy, it’s friendly, it’s safe,” she said. “The team up there was welcoming too, they immediately opened up to me.”
Her verbal commitment is the culmination of eight years of hard work in the sport of volleyball.
And while her skills and attitude have played a major factor, Deanna has a big motivating factor when it comes to sports.
“My dad is my biggest role model,” she said. “He was a giant football star, he broke records, he was a quarterback and I want to live up to him. I want to make him proud and say ‘That’s my daughter!’.”
In the classroom, Deanna has taken a major interest in Anatomy.
“I just like how we work, how we’re put together,” she said. “I like finding out how we react to different aspects, heat, cold, illnesses and the like.”
Though the majority of her time is spent in school or practicing, when Deanna has a free moment or two, she enjoys hanging out with friends and watching scary movies.
But when she’s on the court, it’s all about maintaining consistency and positive reinforcement as league play approaches.
While Deanna has accomplished many things along with her teammates at Whittier Christian, she is keeping her mindset for the remainder of her senior year as simple as possible.
“I just want to finish the season and be happy with it, no regrets,” she said. “I just want to leave it all on the court and be satisfied.”