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Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on November 15th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 37 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 37

Gillian Wilks

By PETER JOHNSON

Last year, as a sophomore on the Santa Ynez High School varsity volleyball team, Gillian Wilks admits she “barely said anything” all season. At the time she was more comfortable letting the juniors and seniors on the team lead the way.

“I observed how the seniors would play, and what I could do to make myself better,” Wilks told the Sun.

But in her junior year, with the team having graduated 12 seniors, Wilks realized she’d need to take on a bigger leadership role for the Pirates to succeed.

“I knew I needed to step up and be more outgoing and be able to talk to my teammates and tell them what they’re doing wrong or right,” Wilks said. “I had to take more initiative as a captain. … It was a big learning curve because we had to teach everyone who was new how we run things, our rotations, and how we play the game.”


PHOTO COURTESY
OF GILLIAN WILKS

The results? Santa Ynez barely skipped a beat, finishing the season 17-9 with a CIF playoff appearance. Wilks led the team with 210 total kills, and Tom Wright, the Pirates head coach, said her energy on both offense and defense elevated the entire team’s play all season.

“[Wilks] can bring the energy of her team up as fast as anybody I’ve ever seen with her intensity, the power of her offense, and the strong defense she shows at the net as a middle blocker,” Wright said.

Wilks still has one more year of high school volleyball to play, and with a new foundation set for the Pirates, she hopes her senior year can be the best yet.

In the meantime, Wilks will be busy playing beach volleyball with some of her high school teammates. She used to play regular club volleyball in the offseason, but last year she decided to opt for the sand, finding that there were many benefits to it.

“In the sand we condition a lot differently—it’s more stamina and how you can kind of outplay the two other players,” Wilks said.

Beach volleyball is growing in popularity throughout the area, and may even soon become a certified CIF high school sport, Wilks said. In many respects, it’s a completely different sport than indoor volleyball because of the emphasis on the individual (with just two players per side) and amount of strength and conditioning it takes. That ends up having a positive effect on her overall game, Wilks said.

“It helped me a lot for on the court—just being faster—so I’m going to do it again this year,” she said.




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