Makenzie Webber finds herself in a different role on the El Capitan High girls volleyball team this season. The Gauchos senior referred to herself as the ‘Old Lady’ on the team.
“The girls look up to me like, ‘She’s the old lady.’ I’m used to being the one looking up to the other girls,” Webber said. “I do feel comfortable in the role. I love it. To see the other girls improve and get better, it makes my heart warm.”
The Gauchos (11-11 overall, 5-3 Central California Conference) came into this season with a young team with four sophomores and only three seniors on the roster.
Webber is often the only senior on the court, but still El Capitan clinched one of the CCC’s four playoff spots with Tuesday’s 25-22, 21-25, 25-12, 25-13 win over Atwater (6-12, 1-6).
“We have a young team,” said El Capitan coach Araceli Moreno. “We have a lot of sophomores. A couple girls don’t have that confidence. We believe in them more than they believe in themselves. We need them to think it’s OK if you mess up. Keep swinging hard.”
That’s where Webber comes in.
The fourth-year varsity player has been part of some really good El Capitan teams her first three seasons. When the matches get tough, it’s Webber who brings the team together. She’s there to offer encouragement to her teammates.
Moreno called timeouts a couple times during the match against Atwater on Tuesday night and let Webber talk to the team to get them refocused.
“She’s our leader,” Moreno said. “She’s been on varsity for four years. She’s our captain. I rely on her a lot. She’s one of the girls that if she messes up, she’s still smiling. She knows she’ll get the next one. That’s the type of players we need.”
Webber racked up 21 kills and 15 digs against the Falcons. Junior middleblocker Robin Helms added 16 kills and six blocks.
The Gauchos have done some shifting around with positions. Former libero Paige Martin has been moved to outside hitter and she had eight kills, 14 digs and three aces against Atwater. Valeria Roman-Torres has been moved to libero and chipped in with 13 digs and two aces.
“Not all of them have the confidence they should,” Webber said. “It comes out in spurts. When I was a freshman, I didn’t feel like a freshman. Everyone treated me like I was one of the girls.”
Webber verbally committed to accept a volleyball scholarship to Cal State Monterey Bay this past summer. She can’t wait to start her collegiate career.
“I’m super excited. It’s a great school,” Webber said. “I loved all the girls. It’s a super good program. I can’t wait to go there. I just liked the overall environment.”
Until then, Webber will enjoy her senior season. One that already includes a win over three-time Sac-Joaquin Section champions Pitman. The Gauchos upset the Pride 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 on Sept. 28. It was El Capitan’s first time beating Pitman in school history.
“Beating Pitman was one of highlights for us, especially for me and Webber,” Moreno said. “We’ve been trying to beat them for four years and we finally did it in her last year.
“The other girls were asking why are you two crying? I told them you don’t understand. That team is amazing. We’ve never been able to get one game off of them let alone three.”
Buhach Colony 3, Merced 0 in Merced – The Thunder improved to 6-2 in the CCC with a 25-15, 25-14, 25-14 win over the Bears. Miranda Baptista paced BC with 13 kills. Mallory Pazin added 22 assists and three aces.