Setting the stage
They’re far from cocky, but Torrey Haddad and Kim D’Antonio talk as if they know they have something special going.
While most volleyball teams rely on one setter, Haddad and D’Antonio provide Forest Lake Christian the luxury of two.
And there’s a reason the seniors are co-captains of one of the top teams in Division V of the Sac-Joaquin Section.
In the Falcons’ two wins this season against Central Valley Christian League rival Woodland Christian, Haddad totaled 59 assists and 16 kills, while D’Antonio was close behind with 51 assists and 15 kills.
“We work really well together,” D’Antonio said. “We trust each other a lot on the court.”
The second of the two wins against Woodland Christian, which came in the CVCL tournament championship last Friday, likely sealed the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.
Forest Lake Christian will host the first round of the postseason at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
D’Antonio and Haddad, who Falcons coach Travis Smith said influenced this season’s redesigned offense, didn’t meet until the beginning of their junior year.
Haddad knows the Forest Lake Christian campus about as well as anyone, having been in school there since kindergarten. But D’Antonio, a native of Southern California, moved north halfway through her sophomore year at Faith Baptist High School in San Fernando Valley’s Canoga Park.
She enrolled at Colfax High School, but after a semester she made a second switch.
“At Colfax I didn’t have a good time,” D’Antonio said. “But when I came to Forest Lake, the first week we all clicked.”
Leaving her team at Faith Baptist, where she was the top setter, wasn’t easy.
With a 7-19 record over the last two years, the Hunters likely wish D’Antonio had stuck around.
“It was very upsetting to leave my team,” D’Antonio said. “The other setter (at Faith Baptist) moved to Kansas when I moved away, so they were left without a setter.”
After years of being her team’s main setter, Haddad was worried when she heard there might be competition for the job.
Haddad missed the beginning of volleyball camp as a junior, so she found out about D’Antonio’s arrival from a friend on the team. At first, she assumed D’Antonio was a freshman. No problem.
“When I heard there was a setter in the same grade, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot!'” Haddad said.
But soon, they realized that the team benefited from the two joining forces.
“For both of them to get along,” Smith said, “that’s a huge advantage.”
As juniors, their statistics were nearly even. D’Antonio finished with 281 assists while Haddad had 259. Haddad totaled 53 kills in a year that the Falcons made it to the section semifinal, and D’Antonio had 41.
D’Antonio: 40 aces, 18 blocks and 90 digs.
Haddad: 37 aces, 24 blocks and 106 digs.
While many of their stats have more than doubled in one year, they are similar to each other as ever.
This season, D’Antonio has accumulated 404 assists, 136 kills and 40 blocks. Haddad has 383 assists, 162 kills and 41 blocks.
“We’ve got two setters who can do everything,” Smith said. “That’s gigantic.
“When you have two setters who are good at just about everything, the benefit of that is you always have two people who can set the ball and three people in the front row who can hit. Having three hitters is a huge advantage.”
Haddad and D’Antonio are as happy to have Smith at the helm as Smith is to have the setters.
The departure April Miraldi, whose coaching stint at Forest Lake Christian ended last season, nearly resulted in chaos.
Until tryouts for this season had ended, the Falcons didn’t know who would be their coach. Smith, who coached FLC from 1998-2003, finally offered to take over after no coach had been hired.
“He stepped in and saved the season,” D’Antonio said.
On Tuesday, the CVCL announced Smith as its coach of the year.
Each of Forest Lake Christian’s starters were also honored by the league.
Haddad, D’Antonio, Teresa Reed and Rebekah Koopmans were each named to the All-CVCL team, while Bethany Huusfeldt, Kelsey Andersson, Shelby Lowe and Julie Moore each received honorable mention.
Haddad and D’Antonio agreed that the success they have had this year likely wouldn’t have been matched without Smith.
“We joke that we’re orphans and he took over the orphanage,” Haddad said.
Having won the CVCL, the focus of Smith, Haddad and D’Antonio has turned to winning the section championship.
The last, and only, time the Falcons won the section was 1998.
According to Smith, Forest Lake Christian’s senior-dominated team means the Falcons’ best shot at returning to the top is this season.
“All we need is heart to get us there,” D’Antonio said.
To contact Sports Writer Jeff Miller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4247.
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