New captain brings pride to Lancers with honors and achievements.
Taking the lead as team captain of the women’s volleyball team this year, Sydney Kralj, senior communications studies major and setter, credits her success in college volleyball at California Baptist University to the combined efforts of her entire team.
Kralj’s achievements include being an All-American player, being marked as Second Team All-West Region and First-Team All PacWest honors, named 2016 PacWest Setter of the Year, the 23rd in all of Division II in assists per set and 64th in total assists and posting 10 double-doubles, with 254 digs, 42 blocks and 19 aces.
Branden Higa, head coach of women’s volleyball, recruited her for the team right out of high school, but at the time it did not work out for Kralj to attend CBU. Instead, she attended California State University, Los Angeles, for two years before transferring into CBU.
Kralj set herself apart from other recruits immediately by driving all the way to 5:30 a.m. practices from L.A., showing her positive attitude and dedication to the sport.
The 2017-2018 season is Kralj’s second full and final season at CBU.
“I’m really honored to now be a part of this because I cherish both coaches. They actually care for me and care about me as a person, not just a volleyball player,” Kralj said. “I have thrived because I have such an awesome support system.”
Kralj said the women on the team help each other through every aspect of their college experience, keeping each other accountable for good habits on and off the court.
“Being a setter and earning awards is fantastic and I’m proud of myself,” Kralj said, “but at the same time that doesn’t come without a team. Every award that I get falls back on my team.”
Higa praised Kralj for her character and quality as a teammate and player.
“She’s certainly proven and demonstrated some things that are high – level and that are examples to her teammates,” Higa said. “She’s certainly earned all of the honors that she’s received.”
Higa said the role of the setter is vital to the team working together to accomplish its goal. While the other players do their parts equally and well, without a setter, the team’s efforts would be in vain.
Kralj came into the team last season as a new recruit, having to adjust to a new group of women who already had deep relationships with each other.
For Kralj, finding her place on the court and with the other players was vital to establishing her status as a player and part of the collaborative effort of the team.
“At the end of the day the setter runs the show,” Kralj said. “Without (other players’) respect or their blessing, it’s hard to do that.”
Kralj said the women on the team were extremely receptive to her leadership. They all molded well with each other and found a rhythm to enter into an exciting senior year for Kraj and for the entire team.
“I love playing for CBU volleyball because everyone on this team plays for each other,” Kralj said. “Yes, there are individual awards and individually some players will receive more awards than others, but at the end of the day we execute so well for each other.”
Higa said he is grateful and feels lucky to have women on the team who care so much for each other and represent the school and the team with such strong character.
“We have people of high character who aren’t just about themselves,” Higa said. “Sydney’s a starter and she’s all of that.”
Kralj and Higa said they are excited to watch this season unfold and believe the team has the potential to take home a championship for the 2017- 2018 volleyball season.