A Country Day lifer, junior Erin Wilson was practically born a Cavalier. She has transformed from spectator to starter, from an inspired elementary school student into an inspiring varsity team captain setter. Wilson has a passion for volleyball that fuels her desire to improve herself and her teammates.
Growing up, Wilson said she “begged” her mother to stay after school to watch Country Day volleyball matches.
“One of my earliest memories of the varsity team is (watching) a (setter) also named Erin (Reddy, ’15), which was one of the reasons I loved watching her,” she said. “I remember her always being so in control of the ball on the court.
“I think that’s why I love playing home games and having people come watch us now.”
Wilson suffered a concussion during the annual Ancil Hoffman capture-the-flag game on Sept. 20 and will miss the rest of the season.
Wilson started playing volleyball in fifth grade and has played setter ever since.
“I stuck with (volleyball) because I loved setting and hitting,” Wilson said.
Throughout middle school, Wilson played soccer, basketball and volleyball. However, during her freshman year, the Sacramento Metropolitan Athletic League (SMAL) moved soccer from winter to fall, the same season as volleyball.
Furthermore, Country Day didn’t have enough girls for a varsity soccer team, so it became coed.
Facing a difficult decision, Wilson chose volleyball over soccer because soccer was coed and many of her friends were playing volleyball, she said.
“I played soccer for 10 years before I stopped,” she said. “I (just) have more passion for volleyball.”
In 2018, the 5-foot-5 Wilson played as the sole sophomore, ranking second on the varsity with a 24.8% ace rate. The Cavs finished 15-6 overall and 11-3 in the SMAL, losing 3-0 to Stone Ridge Christian in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Division VI playoffs.
“It was hard not playing with any other kids from my grade, but the juniors and seniors (then) were very welcoming and are great friends,” she said.
Following her first varsity season, Wilson made the Sacramento Performance Volleyball Club (SPVC) 16’s premier team. Wilson, who practiced twice a week in addition to playing in weekend tournaments, described the intensity of club volleyball.
“Everyone who’s there wants to play,” she said. “It was like you deserved to be there and you had to work at it because someone could take your place.”
However, Wilson said she enjoyed the regularity of practices and competitions.
“Tournaments were always my favorite, especially toward the end of the season when the matches started to matter more and the competition went up,” she said.
In addition to Reddy, Wilson’s former teammate Bella Mathisen, ’19, inspired her.
“She was a setter last year and helped me prepare to be the only setter on the team (this year),” Wilson said.
Wilson recognized the challenge and “responsibility” of the position.
“(I’m) always part of the play because I usually get the second ball, so you always have to be there and try your hardest,” she said.
As of Oct. 1, the Cavs were 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the SMAL, with their smallest roster size (eight) since 2005, according to MaxPreps.
Juniors Erin Wilson (17) and Elise Sommerhaug (12) listen as coach Jason Kreps addresses the team during the Cavs’ 3-0 win over Cristo Rey on Sept. 18. (Photo by Shimin Zhang)
Coach Jason Kreps noted Wilson’s volleyball skills in addition to her leadership presence.
“She is super fast, has a great serve and is really starting to understand how to run an offense as a setter,” Kreps said. “Erin has a quiet leadership; she leads by doing. She is always pushing others in an encouraging manner.”
Wilson’s confidence and fearlessness make her a great setter, according to junior right side Elise Sommerhaug.
“Erin’s not afraid to go for the ball,” Sommerhaug said. “She knows her position very well. If it’s the second ball, then that’s hers, and she will do whatever it takes to get to it.”
Wilson said she enjoys the team aspect of volleyball, especially at Country Day.
“I like being more connected with everyone on the team because I see them every day,” she said. “I’m not afraid to yell at (my teammates), but I also encourage them. The key to volleyball is being able to function together on a court.”
Before suffering the concussion, she said her goals for this season were to fine-tune her setting and serving, as well as improve her passing.
“I’m trying to learn different types of sets with certain hitters so we can have better attacks,” she said. “I want to improve my passing because it’s a weakness.
“(But) I feel like secretly I’ve always wanted to play hitter because hitting the ball is very fun.”
Kreps said Wilson positively influences the team culture.
“She has an attitude that everyone wants to be around and that becomes infectious in a team setting,” he said. “I look forward to watching her play again and helping her get healthy.”
Upon medical clearance, Wilson said she plans to try out for club volleyball. She also hopes to dabble in beach volleyball with SPVC.
“I’ve heard great things about beach, and it seems like a new challenge I want to try,” she said.
—By Jackson Crawford
Originally published in the Oct. 15 edition of the Octagon.