To say Hayley Hodson had a busy summer playing volleyball would be more than a bit of an understatement.
If she wasn't at USA Volleyball High Performance team tryouts in Colorado Springs, she was competing in the Junior Olympics in Columbus, Ohio, helping her TStreet Volleyball Club 17-and-under team win bronze in the open division along with Corona del Mar High teammate Alexis Cage.
If you missed her there, you could find her in Europe competing with the USA Youth National Team, or in Mexico at a NORCECA competition.
The CdM sophomore returned home to Newport Beach on Aug. 12.
CdM volleyball practice started the next day.
"It was a long summer of volleyball," Hodson said. "It was fun."
Hodson, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, continually strives to get better. The Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week helped fuel an impressive year for the Sea Kings.
She led the team in kills for the second straight year, finishing with 356 of them this season. One of her best performances came at a big moment, on Nov. 10 in a CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA quarterfinal match.
CdM beat No. 4-seeded Mater Dei in four sets, avenging two losses earlier in the season. It was definitely a season highlight for CdM.
"It was a very nice feeling," Hodson said. "Regardless of who wins or loses, we always have a rivalry with Mater Dei. A lot of kids who have gone to middle school here at our school go to Mater Dei. They're basically our neighbors, so it's always something we get fired up for. Going into that [match], we all just sat around and determined that we weren't losing to them again. We wanted it really badly, and I think we just fought our hearts out. It was just very satisfying."
Hodson also shined individually. She had her third-highest kill total of the season, recording 24 on 67 attempts.
"She had a great match, passing, defensively and hitting-wise," CdM Coach Marissa Booker said. "I would say that we felt like she progressively got better as the year went on. She was putting more balls away and getting more kills, and hitting the ball harder. There were a couple of points [at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions] where she hit the ball so hard. We were all just kind of like blown away by it."
Hodson was one of four team captains this year for CdM, the only one who wasn't a senior. She has come a long way in the sport that she started playing when she was 8, when she still lived in Pacific Palisades. She has always been tall for her age, but the love of volleyball didn't come all at once.
"I hated volleyball for a really long time, until I was about 12," Hodson said. "That was when I figured out that I could actually play volleyball."
The Hodson family moved from Pacific Palisades to Westlake Village, then to Laguna Beach for a year before settling in Newport Beach two years ago. The CdM volleyball program is a lot better for it.
Surprisingly, Hodson is the first person in her family to play volleyball. But she's also a blossoming player. When she was in eighth grade she made the USA High Performance team for the first time. That gave people a hint at the kind of potential she possessed.
It also gave Hodson a moment she will never forget.
"I was sitting in class, and I wasn't supposed to be, but I went online and saw my little PIN number there," she said. "That was just a really special moment in my life, making that USA High Performance team for the first time and knowing that I get to wear 'USA' on my back."
Even after her busy summer of volleyball, Hodson also represented the Sea Kings well. She made the all-tournament team at the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas, as well as at the Asics California Challenge in San Diego.
She helped CdM finish 23-7, a more-than respectable record after moving up to Division 1-AA. The Sea Kings were eliminated Tuesday in the semifinals at top-seeded Redondo Union.
"We had a lot of talent last year, and I'm not sure anybody quite expected us to do this well in the higher division this year," Hodson said. "I was just so proud of our team, that we were able to win league again and just fight through. We weren't supposed to win that match against Mater Dei, and I'm just so proud of our team that we could fight through that and make it to semis. Yeah, it's disappointing, because we would have really liked to get the ring and win CIF, but I thought we did really well overall."
With Hodson at CdM for two more years, the future also appears bright.
"Absolutely," Booker said. "We've already seen her get better this year. I can only imagine what she's going to be like during her senior year."
Born: Sept. 8, 1996
Hometown: Pacific Palisades
Coach: Marissa Booker
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: The "Lord of the Rings" trilogy
Favorite athletic moment: Making the USA High Performance team for the first time in eighth grade.
Week in review: Hodson had a team-high 24 kills as the Sea Kings beat Mater Dei in four sets in a CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA quarterfinal match Nov. 10. In CdM's first three playoffs matches combined, she had 49 kills.