“Ain’t nobody like El Camino!” This rally cry has resonated deeply this year with El Camino’s Girl’s Volleyball team. The team finished 10-0, only losing one game all year, to clinch the CAL League title against Vista Del Lago on November 4. Their road through the playoffs throughout November included the Division III section title game against Christian Brothers; El Camino won the section title in four matches at UC Davis. The journey ended in the second round of NorCal finals, being vanquished by San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral in 5 games.
The team was packed with hard-working and talented volleyball players, including three seniors, Libby Dahlberg, Kate Nicknig, and Mikaela Nocetti. They committed to their respective colleges on November 12 and will contribute their competitive spirit to their future teams.
Dahlberg began her volleyball career five years ago. Her freshman year was spent on EC’s junior varsity team and the rest spent on varsity. She admitted she had many wonderful memories, but she claims EC’s section win in 2012 was the best time of her high school career. “That game was exciting, especially being my first year as a varsity player,” she said.
Standing 6’2’’, Dahlberg committed to playing volleyball to use her height to her advantage and follow in her mother’s footsteps, who also played high school volleyball.
She was recruited by Westmont College in Santa Barbara and this is where she committed to play volleyball. “I actually showed an interest in the school and emailed the coach,” she recalled. “She then invited me to come practice with the team. About a month later she called me and made me an offer. It took me a couple months to make my final decision but in August I verbally committed to Westmont!” Her decision was driven by the small, faith-based atmosphere and its ideal location by the Pacific Ocean.
Like Dahlberg, Nicknig began playing organized volleyball her freshman year at El Camino and her club team. “My favorite year is definitely this year,” she says. “I feel like we have finally tied the loose ends as a team this year.” She had primarily played basketball before starting volleyball; her sights were playing basketball at the collegiate level. She balanced the two sports her freshman and sophomore year, however she discovered more opportunities with volleyball rather than basketball. From there on out, her connection to volleyball became stronger and more college attention was focused on her.
She decided to commit to San Jose State University; she was the one who reached out to colleges. “I would send out at least ten emails a week and over a year I probably sent 400 colleges emails,” she recollected. “Some got serious and would reply. San Jose State replied and she [the representative] said I had a great opportunity to be on the team based on the video I sent her. I met her at Junior Olympics over the summer and from there I made an unofficial visit to the campus and committed three days later.” Her reasons for her school were the love for the Bay Area and being “a gem of a school that not many people know about. It’s a big football school and it being athlete-oriented is something I want to be a part of.”
The longest-tenured volleyball player, Nocetti has played varsity volleyball since her freshman year. “Freshman year was a little scary because of all the seniors, but it got better this year,” she said. Her injury and illness during her junior year was a setback for her and she didn’t enjoy the mood of the team that year. Nevertheless, she has seized the day every day this season, playing volleyball with her close friends and staying healthy. Similarly to Dahlberg, Nocetti followed in her mother’s footsteps, the foundation of her volleyball career. She also idolizes EC 2013 alumnus Cassidy Denny; “she was really intense and I really liked playing with her sophomore year. She made me a better player and helped me develop a tougher skin,” she said.
Nocetti will play volleyball for the University of Portland. “They contacted me saying they were interested in me after a tournament. Portland was one of the last schools to contact me, so I went through the whole recruitment process and I chose the school I spent the least time with. I knew the school was right for me and that all this hard work would finally pay off,” she remembered. Her passion for Portland was rooted in her love for Oregon and family ties there. She admitted her excitement for the climate in Portland: “It actually snows!” She also committed to Portland to push herself out of her comfort zone and challenge her volleyball game.
Each volleyball player praised each other for the next chapters in their lives. Nocetti took the most pride in Dahlberg and Nicknig for landing letters of intent despite their short tenures as serious volleyball players. All three of them will miss the schoolwide support supplied by the Screaming Eagles and this special season. As they move on to college, they will always remain Eagles at heart.