PLAYER OF THE YEAR : Kriste Provided Lighter Moments for Wolverines

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Harvard-Westlake High girls' volleyball team was less than 24 hours from its first appearance in the State championship match.

That meant there was plenty of time for one last grueling, intense practice.

Not exactly.

Instead, Jenni Kriste launched an impromptu game of War Ball, the Wolverines' version of dodgeball.

She fired a volleyball at Coach Jess Quiroz who, of course, returned the favor.

The enlightened Wolverines joined in and, for that day, there was no order on the court.

"She started it," said senior Lesley Coben, who served as co-captain with Kriste. "And she kept it going."

It turned out to be the right move, which the senior setter has a knack for making.

"Instead of having an intense practice," Coben said, "we went out and relaxed and had fun."

Kriste and the Wolverines had more fun the next day when they swept San Jose Del Mar for the State Division III title.

Like always, Kriste ran the offense smoothly, knowing when to launch a high floater to the outside and when to pop the middle with a quick set.

Sometimes Kriste, who had already helped the Wolverines capture the Southern Section Division II championship, killed the ball herself with a simple swat.

Kriste, who will attend California next year on scholarship, was named most valuable player of the match.

Thanks to her all-around abilities--which also include a tough serve and solid blocking--the 6-foot Kriste was also honored as the Southern Section's Division II player of the year.

But Kriste's finest attribute won't be found on a stat sheet.

"I don't want to diminish anything else on the team, but a lot of her leadership is why we were there," Quiroz said.

"People saw someone who really enjoyed what she was doing, and you don't see that a lot with athletes. She just has fun doing what she does and brought it out in others."

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