Volleyballer looking good
Like being a teen-ager isn’t tough enough.
But South Tahoe High students Kate Devore and Adrian Hankoff are pushing the limits of youth commitment. In addition to classroom and other sporting demands, both are playing club volleyball for Placerville’s “Gold Trail,” one of the top-ranked under-16 teams in Northern California.
And the two are doing quite well.
“They’re both such a pleasure to have on the team,” said Gold Trail coach Sharon Hardy. “Last year our under-14 team finished seventh in the nation. Now, with a combination of those kids and Kate and Adrian, we’re a really strong team.”
The Trail has finished high in numerous national-caliber tournaments since the season began in January. The girls took seventh at the Las Vegas Invitational and ninth at Colorado Crossroads in Denver.
According to Hardy, it all begins with Hankoff, a sophomore.
“We set up the team around Adrian. She is a huge asset to our program,” said Hardy, who deemed Hankoff one of the best players she’s seen in 10 years of coaching. “Every week she gets better. Her best asset is her strength. She gets to balls you couldn’t even think of hitting.
“Adrian is one of the top three tenth-graders in the country. By the time she’s a senior, she could easily be the best player in the country. After every tournament, five or six college coaches call me about her. In Las Vegas, the whole court was lined with scouts. She could write her own (college) ticket right now. And we haven’t even begun to tap into what she’s capable of.”
Hankoff knows the extra effort it takes to make the triweekly trip to Placerville, while maintaining high grades and swimming for the high school team, will pay off come graduation.
“I’m hoping for a scholarship and playing down there will give me a better chance. Besides, I’m learning the game better, hitting a lot harder and moving quicker,” Hankoff said.
For Devore, playing at such a high level is giving her something that her game lacked more than anything – confidence. The 6-foot, 2-inch junior said she feels like she’s playing the game for the first time.
“It’s hard to tell a change in yourself sometimes. But I feel like I’m doing better. My all-around game has improved,” she said. “In high school, I was too worried about making a mistake or getting subbed out. With (Hardy) my confidence level has raised. My coach is helping me to levels where I’m changing a lot.”
Hardy, aside from saying Devore is one of her favorite players, expects her to only get better.
“When I first looked at Kate, she hadn’t been trained but had a lot of raw skills. I haven’t given up on her and she’s really come through for us. She’s definitely become a threat at the net,” Hardy said. “Kate is getting some (college) attention as well. I ride her pretty hard because she’s got potential. I think she can play at the college level. It’s up to her and how much work she puts in.”
Gold Trail’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the Junior Olympics in June. A top-four finish in either the Nor Cal league or at the Far Westerns qualifier next weekend will secure a trip.
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