What follows is Coach Aaron Pollock’s reflection of the season written for the Pocket News. Also below are the senior speeches that were given at senior night, which included a festive introduction to the winning game of the Metro League Championship.
From Coach Pollock:
After winning our first Metro League Championship in School history last year I watched seven of my seniors that all made significant contributions to our success that season walk across the stage at graduation, and I knew we were going to be a young team this year. Last year we were a team from the beginning of the season to the end. All of our personalities clicked from the beginning and we just had great natural chemistry that was glued together by the great leadership of those graduating seniors who were battle tested from the previous season. Winning our first Metro League Championship last year was definitely not easy, but this year as with every other year was going to bring a whole new set of challenges.
I knew I had great talent returning in senior setter Kassidy Rauh, senior outside hitter Hailey Bearor, and junior setter Jamie Seaton who all contributed significantly to that first championship. I knew that returning senior, defensive specialists Kat Yu and Celina Ortega were going to have more opportunities to contribute. I also had some other really talented junior players in middle hitters Kenna Wohlford and Hjordis Grogan, along with outside hitters Maya Kitt and Karel Cobian coming up from junior varsity. JV Coaches Becky Rauh and Jeff Guro had really prepared these girls for varsity level volleyball in the fall and most of them had continued to grow and develop their skill as they played together on our Cougar Pride Volleyball Club team last spring.
Ultimately our success this season came because everyone really committed themselves to working hard to learn how to communicate better, and to make the sacrifices necessary to be part of a team.
At the beginning of the season I had a bunch of really talented individual volleyball players but by the end of the season I was so proud of the team they became. They began the season loving to play the game of volleyball but they finished the season loving to play for each other.
We really saved the best for last as we peaked on our Senior Night versus Burbank on Nov. 3 and played our best match of the season as we clinched our second consecutive Metro League Championship Title. That intense level of volleyball carried over into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs as we put up an amazing fight versus No. 3 seeded Oakridge. We eventually lost the match in three sets (25-20, 25-19, 25-11), but it was not for a lack of heart, effort or intensity.
On that night not a single ball touched our side of the court without first being touched by a Kennedy player, and every single player walked off that court, looked each of their teammates in the eye and honestly said that they gave their absolute best effort on every single ball.
What more could a coach ask for? I could not be more proud of how well this team executed our game plan and performed as a team on that night. With a bus load of our current freshmen and JV players in attendance at that match I’m sure they got a little taste of what it means to be a part of the Women’s Varsity Volleyball Team at Kennedy High School, and with some very talented freshmen and sophomores coming up through the ranks and many local middle school girls starting to play on school and club teams, I am very excited for the future Kennedy Volleyball players who are ready to play their hearts out.
Meet the seniors
#17 – Mary Koloamatangi
Mary is the fourth Koloamatangi to have gone through Kennedy’s Volleyball Program. This is her fifth year playing volleyball and her second year on varsity. She would love to thank her parents, family, and friends for their time and support these past four years. She also thanks Coach Pollock, Coach Becky, and Coach Jeff for their time and efforts in coaching our team. She enjoyed making new friends as well as playing with Kat, Celina, Hailey and Kassidy. However, she will miss her usual schedule of coming to practice and winning games. Lastly, Mary is very proud of her seniors and team for coming a long way in their winning Metro League Championship twice in a row. She has high hopes for next year’s team and wishes them good luck.
#11 – Hailey Bearor
Hailey has been playing volleyball throughout her entire high school career. When she first started playing she thought she wouldn’t like it but with the support of her coaches and family she found she loved it. Her favorite volleyball memory would be last year when varsity took the Metro League Championship Title for the first time in Kennedy’s history. Hailey said she was proud to be a part of the team who put the first Women’s Volleyball banner up in the Kennedy Gym. She thanks all of her coaches and family for all of the support on and off the court.
#5 – Kassidy Rauh
Kassidy has enjoyed her four years playing for JFK volleyball. During both years on the varsity team, Kassidy was able to help her team accomplish getting a banner two years in a row. One of her fondest memories is of last year when she and her team filled the void. She will always remember the marvelous traditions her and her team took part of and in some cases, created. She is escorted by her beautiful mother Becky, her stunningly handsome father Keith Rauh, and her wonderfully supportive grandmother Rarie. She would like to thank coach Pollock and those who support the John F. Kennedy volleyball organization. She hopes to play volleyball in the college of choice of which has yet to be decided.
#20 – Kat Yu
Kat thanks them for being the most supportive. If it wasn’t for them, she would not be here today. Kat has played volleyball with Kennedy for four years and is very grateful for the amazing coaches she has had, and the life-long friends she has made along the way. She fought through a tough journey to get where she is now. She still remembers the days of her freshman year, when the passing of the ball brought her great pain and bruises. But after four years, she now takes pride in her bruises because they represent her hard work and dedication of fighting through the pain. After every practice and game, Kat would stand back up and leave the gym with a new bruise and burn, and be perfectly fine the next day. The scars that remains on her today allow her to look back and tell herself, ‘it was worth it.’
She is very thankful for this program because volleyball has taught her one very important lesson in life: The value of time. In volleyball, it’s that split second that determines the fate of the ball. It’s that second wasted, looking up at the ball that changes the whole game. She has seen, experienced, adjusted and learned that every second in life counts, and cannot be wasted.
Kat is very thankful for her amazing teammates. In her eyes, she can turn to her team and honestly see that they will sacrifice themselves to pick up a ball for the team, and she trusts that they know she will do the same.
Kat would like to thank Coach Pollock for his words of wisdom. Coach has taught her teamwork. Whether or not they win, they will always walk out as a team. Winning doesn’t make them perfect, what makes them perfect is that they are able to look into each other’s eyes and see that they gave it their all. Coach brought us to perfection.
Kat would like to thank her teammates for being the best teammates in the world, her coach for being the best coach in the world, her friends, for always being there for her and being the best in the world, and especially her family, for being the best family in the world.
#8 – Celina Ortega
Celina thanks her parents and grandparents for all the love and support they’ve given her and would like to recognize them for everything they’ve done.
Celina has played Kennedy volleyball for all four years and is going on her third year playing for Kennedy’s club team, Cougar Pride.
She says that since freshman year, playing volleyball has done nothing but help her grow and create lasting memories. She’d like to thank her best friend Madisen for trying out and playing on the team freshman year because if it weren’t for her, she wouldn’t have joined.
And if it weren’t for all her coaches teaching and guiding her along the way, she wouldn’t be the player she is today. So she’d like to thank, most importantly, Coach Becky and Pollock for always believing in and supporting her throughout the thick and thin. But Kennedy volleyball couldn’t have made it this far without our parents and fans cheering us on along the way. Yes, Thank you Jean! Thank you Wohlfords!
What makes volleyball so meaningful to Celina are the relationships and memories she’s made with her teams. The teammates she plays with now have not only made her last year the most gratifying and joyous but they have become people she recognizes as family. Celina says, “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been on the floor dying of laughter. I’d approximate it to be… every day we’re together.” She can’t fathom the words to express how much she’ll miss playing with her teammates, but wants to wish them the best of luck for wherever life may take them.