Laura Schroeder has introduced a new dynamic to an old rivalry between the La Cañada High and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls' volleyball teams.
After spending her first two years of high school playing for the Tologs, Schroeder is now the Spartans' starting right-side hitter. The junior transferred to La Cañada this year, adding fire to an already heated rivalry.
When the schedule comes out at the beginning of the year, the La Cañada players say they always check to see when their match against Sacred Heart is taking place.
La Cañada Coach Brock Turner believes competition between the two cross-town schools is so fierce because they're so familiar with each other.
"A lot of the girls grew up playing club volleyball together," Turner said. "It's a nice, friendly rivalry for the coaches, but a little more intense for the girls."
It's definitely more intense for senior Eirene Kim, one of La Cañada's captains. When she was asked before the season what opponent the Spartans wanted to beat the most this year, she didn't hesitate.
"Of course it's Sacred Heart, like it is every year. We want to show Laura Schroeder that she made the right choice," Kim chuckled.
Today, Schroeder is just a part of the team, but when she first went to introduce herself to her La Cañada teammates as the newest Spartan during summer league, she got a little sidetracked.
"I saw the whole Sacred Heart team and ran over and started hugging them, but then I realized I should probably go over to my new team," Schroeder said. "It was a little awkward at first."
After preseason practice, all the awkwardness faded, and the team began to bond.
"Our team is really like a family, and I really love that," Schroeder said. "Everyone is so nice and I feel so welcomed, like I've been here forever."
It's ironic that Schroeder feels like a member of the Spartan family, even though as a sophomore last year with the Tologs, she was on the same team as her sister, Mary.
It was during this time that La Cañada beat Sacred Heart for the first time in five years. On Tuesday, the Spartans attempted to repeat what they did 364 days earlier on Sept. 29, 2009, when they beat the Tologs, 25-17, 25-15, 25-16 at La Cañada.
Schroeder was so desperate for a victory as the Spartans prepared to play the Tologs on their home court she's pleaded with her new team to beat her old one.
"Now that I'm on the opposite side of the net, I really want to beat them [Sacred Heart] even more," Schroeder said. "We have the skill to do it, we just have to go up there confident enough to beat them. I think that we can win."