What began as a lengthy and sometimes bitter standoff between mother and daughter ended in victory for both, and then some.
Jeanne Vetter, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter with spunk to burn, played for one season at Santa Margarita, dreaming of the day she could transfer to Dana Hills.
“I begged my parents to come (to Dana Hills),” said Vetter, whose family lives closer to Dana Hills High. “We disagreed about it. I just didn’t think (Santa Margarita) was the place for me, and if you know a place isn’t for you, then you should get out.”
Eventually, she did. But she temporarily had to sacrifice what was most important to her to make it happen.
“I told my mom I’d stop playing, and that she’d have to drag me back (to Santa Margarita),” she said.
Vetter, who will turn 17 Tuesday, has played volleyball since the sixth grade and ranks it with breathing as essential to her existence. But in order for Vetter to be eligible at Dana Hills, the senior co-captain had to sit out her sophomore season at Santa Margarita, much to the chagrin of her parents and then-teammates.
“It was really hard,” she said. “I was getting a lot of flak from a lot of people.”
On the first day of Santa Margarita’s volleyball practice, Vetter’s mother picked her up from school with her workout clothes in the back seat of their car.
“She told me I should change. I told her she should take me home,” said Vetter, who did a lot of running to keep in shape and keep her sanity.
Knowing what she was giving up by sitting out, her parents eventually relented and allowed the transfer.
“That decision was made by her alone,” Dana Hills Coach Mike Hurlbut said. “She really does go after what she wants.”
What she wants this year is a South Coast League championship and a successful run at the Southern Section Division I title.
Last season, Dana Hills was ranked as high as eighth in the county and was off to an 8-0 start before the walls--and the team’s blocking, spiking, and digging--came tumbling down. The Dolphins lost seven consecutive and eight of their last 10 matches and fell to fifth place in league.
“We were totally on a winning streak, then all of the sudden, boom,” said Vetter, who didn’t try to explain the slump other than to say this year, the team’s chemistry is better.
And this year, Dana Hills begins the season unranked, which suits Vetter just fine.
“It’s probably better not to be ranked,” she said. “Then we can come out see what happens. We’ve been working so hard. Every practice we say, ‘OK, this is the fifth game of the state final.’ ”
Over the summer, Vetter played for the Mission Valley club team that reached the championship of the prestigious Davis tournament, where her team lost the five-game finale. She vowed that history would never repeat itself.
“That will never happen to me as long as I live,” she said. “That was the worst feeling of my whole life.”
Much of this team’s pluck can be traced to Vetter, who has matured as a player and a person, and to co-captain Ursula Luna, the senior setter.
“They demand a lot of their teammates,” said Hurlbut, who has demanded even more of Vetter.
After a lackluster effort against Mater Dei last year, during which Vetter, “was in another space,” Hurlbut said, the coach cornered the cadet.
“I let her know about the communication thing,” he said. “From there on, she started to realize how important that is and that that was a role she was expected to take. She’s developed into an all-around leader.”
Leader, yes. Hardest worker? Not yet. Vetter admits she’ll do 49 sit-ups when Hurlbut demands 50.
“She has some room to push, but when you’re as talented as she is, you can rest a little on your ability,” Hurlbut said. “But when she decides to dig into the well, watch out.”
Digging might soon commence, the more she’s exposed to the college game.
“I see how hard they train and know I have to do more,” she said.
On the court, her role has expanded as well. She used to hit away from the outside, but this season she can hit from anywhere, and she has shored up her defense.
Vetter, who is being wooed by UCLA, Pepperdine, San Diego and Illinois, would gladly give up star status as long as she can play at the best level there is, be it high school or college.
“I’ve wanted to play in the Pac-10,” she said. “That has been a goal of mine forever, just because it’s the best conference and the toughest competition. It feels good when you beat someone better or as good as you.”
Volleyball at a Glance
Top players: Julie Adams, Cypress; Monika Bickert, El Toro; Melissa Blackler, San Clemente; Maria Bowden, Los Alamitos; Shannon Breazeale, Brea-Olinda; Theresa Bullard, Laguna Hills; Jill Butts, Edison; Kim Dang, Valencia; Sherine Ebadi, Los Alamitos; April Evans, Canyon; Holly Falkenhagen, Trabuco Hills; Nina Foster, Mission Viejo; Audra Gamst, Troy; Katy Gayton, La Habra; Roberta Gelhke, Mater Dei; Kristy Hensel, Kennedy; Starr Hinojos, Esperanza; Kristin Moro, Fountain Valley; Lesley Nolan, Santa Margarita; Katie Pearce, Los Alamitos; Mary Pezzetti, Orange; Lisa Pitt, Kennedy; Leigh Readey, Irvine; Analisa Saylor, El Toro; Kameron Schambeck, La Habra; Julia Schnurstein, Estancia; Jamie Shine, El Modena; Allison Stricklin, Mater Dei; Tita Tavares, Estancia; Misty Thompson, Laguna Hills; Brooke Weaver, Edison; Kari Wehner, Esperanza; Jennifer Wilson, Trabuco Hills; Gina Ybarra, Fountain Valley.
League favorites: Century: El Modena; Empire: Los Alamitos; Freeway: Sunny Hills and La Habra; Garden Grove: Kennedy; Olympic: Calvary Chapel; Orange: Valencia; Pacific Coast: Laguna Beach; Sea View: Corona del Mar; South Coast: Capistrano Valley; Sunset: Huntington Beach.
1992 final coaches poll: 1. Corona del Mar; 2. Laguna Beach; 3. Newport Harbor; 4. Edison; 5. Capistrano Valley; 6. Capistrano Valley Christian; 7. El Toro; 8. Sunny Hills; 9. Los Alamitos; 10. Foothill.
1993 preseason poll: 1. Corona del Mar; 2. Newport Harbor; 3. Laguna Beach; 4. Mater Dei; 5. Huntington Beach; 6. Capistrano Valley; 7. Calvary Chapel; 8. Dana Hills; 9. El Toro; 10. La Habra.
Key dates: Orange County Championships, Sept. 18 at Marina High; Newport Harbor at Chicago Sports Challenge, Sept. 30-Oct. 2; Southern Section finals, Nov. 20; Southern California Regional finals Nov. 30 at various sites; State championships Dec. 4.
Notes: The attention’s on Corona del Mar, but Coach Lance Stewart’s players are multidimensional: Kelly Campbell, champion runner; Kristen Campbell, student body president; Kimberly Coleman, champion equestrian; Jennifer Stroffe, accomplished dancer. . . . Michelle Christ of Laguna Beach comes from championship stock: she is the niece of Laguna Hills’ Rudy and Dusty Dvorak. . . . Edison’s bid to repeat as Sunset League champion will be tough without Brooke Weaver, who had knee surgery in the off-season and will be out a month. . . . Coaching changes abounded, including assistants who moved into head coaching jobs: Maureen Flanagan (El Modena), Ken Keup (Estancia), Bob Jones (La Habra), Donn Osterlund (Santa Margarita) and Mark Castillo (Valencia).