The faces she sees in the soup kitchen are tired, scared, hungry.
They make Errin Benesh realize how lucky she is.
Benesh, a senior middle blocker at Village Christian High, helps prepare and distribute food for the poor with her Christian youth group.
She is nothing if not thankful.
"A lot of times, it's moms with their kids [who need help]," Benesh said. "They have enough money to pay for rent at the end of the month, but they don't have food or any other necessities. They don't have things that I have. It keeps me humble."
It's a mind-set she carries onto the volleyball court.
Benesh, who had 53 kills in a match last season against Frazier Mountain and set the school single-season record with 531 kills, is less concerned with statistics than with Village Christian winning its first outright Alpha League title since 1986.
"I would sit on the bench for the rest of the year if it meant we'd win Alpha League," she said.
Division I colleges have noticed her.
The 6-foot-1 Benesh, who can play outside hitter or in the middle, is being recruited by Purdue, University of San Diego, Texas A&M; and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
San Diego and Texas A&M; are top-20 teams, but Benesh is leaning toward the other two schools, which doesn't surprise her coach.
"She'd probably have a better chance at a national championship at one of the established schools, but she thrives on helping build a program," Village Christian Coach Bill Schnobrich said.
"She wants to contribute, she wants to give. She kind of did that here at Village. She's given us a name and helped take us to the next level. She gets a kick out of that."
As imposing as Benesh is on the court, with her powerful swing and superb defense at the net, she acknowledges she's not always so fluid off the court.
She broke the little toe on her left foot last year when she tripped over a portable generator while on a boating trip. She said she's also prone to smacking herself in the forehead with weights while doing arm curls.
"I do some strange things," she said. "I'm kind of the butt of jokes, but I don't mind it."
Melody Eckmier is getting used to new surroundings at Simi Valley High and a new position at setter.
Eckmier, a 6-2 junior, was a middle blocker at Van Nuys before transferring in the off-season.
Eckmier has good height and blocking ability, but she needs to improve her ball-handling skills.
"I'm a little rusty," Eckmier said. "I'm in a learning process. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I'll get it."
Eckmier doesn't foresee a switch back to the middle.
"I hope I'm going to get a college scholarship as a setter," said Eckmier, whose sister, Angela, is a middle blocker at UCLA. "I really like setting."
Two former UCLA players--Susan Terrusa and Lynn Rangel--are high school girls' volleyball coaches.
Terrusa, a member of UCLA's 1984 national championship team, coaches at Alemany. Rangel, who played briefly with the Bruins, coaches at Campbell Hall.
Terrusa, a setter who was known as Susan Taylor when she played for the Bruins in the mid-1980s, has a championship watch instead of a ring.
"Instead of rings, we got watches," Terrusa said. "Mine broke a long time ago. It's somewhere here [at home], but I'm not sure where."
Rangel played the 1985 season at UCLA before transferring to Cal State Dominguez Hills. She played middle blocker, setter, outside hitter and in the back row, parlaying her versatility into a beach volleyball career.
Terrusa still roots for the Bruins, especially during football season.
"I still manage to get to the UCLA-USC game," Terrusa said. "When it's at the Rose Bowl, of course."
In the state poll, Royal is ranked No. 8 in Division I, Harvard-Westlake is No. 3 in Division III and Sacred Heart is No. 3 in Division IV.