Not everyone is cut out or even desires to be a leader. Hailey Heath, a recent Burbank High graduate and standout volleyball player, enjoyed the role after being named co-captain during her final two seasons.
“I would consider myself a leader on the team,’’ said Heath, who will attend UC Santa Barbara and major in Psychological and Brain Sciences, but will not play volleyball. “I liked the role because it helped me in other areas besides volleyball. It taught me how to be confident in myself and how to work well with others which helped me in school and interviews.”
Heath, an outside hitter who led the Bulldogs in kills with 154, set the school mark for kills in a match with 21, broke the school record for passing average at 2.09, had the most service aces, was named team Most Valuable Player and selected All-CIF first-team as a senior, said one moment stands tall and it came during her sophomore season which was interrupted by a kneecap injury.
“The match that stood out was one of my first real varsity experiences,’’ she said. “It was a tough match against Crescenta Valley. Coach subbed me midway for one of the seniors. I was able to get six kills. I played the whole third game and also the fourth game [Burbank led two games to one]. It was a real challenge. It went back and forth. We tied the game at 26 and I came up to serve. I aced two in a row to win the game. It was so exciting.’’
Heath, who also paced the Bulldogs in passing average at 2.04, had the most kills in a season at 142, the highest serving percentage at 95.7, the best hitting percentage, was the team’s Offensive Player of the Year and All-CIF honorable mention as a junior, said her strength was getting everyone involved.
“I would say my passing was my biggest asset,’’ she said. “I did have the highest passing average both my junior and senior year, and I would say that I was always there to get the job done in crunch time. Passing is the foundation of the game, so without it, a team cannot have success.’’
During the three years Heath played on the varsity, the Bulldogs made the CIF Southern Section playoffs each season.
Most like scoring with defense often overlooked. Not so with Heath, who had the then-most kills in a match at 19 during her junior season. “I loved defense,’’ she said. “It was always new and unexpected. Every team runs offense differently, so it pushed me to be better and adapt to each team. I love the challenge of playing against talented girls in our [Pacific] League.’’
Were there lessons Heath, who played club volleyball for LAVA, which captured the bronze medal at the Junior Olympics in 2016 and won the silver division in 2017 with Rise VBC, took away from playing volleyball?
“I learned how to be a team player and cooperate with others,’’ she said. “It also taught me how to be disciplined and give 110 percent in all aspects of my life. It also helped me with time management.’’
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.