Sweet swan song for Carson’s Sarah
Sarah Christl will play the final volleyball match of her life this weekend, and she gets to do it on the biggest stage in the state.
Christl, the 5-foot-9 senior defensive specialist for the Carson High volleyball team, caps her two-year varsity career by playing in the NIAA State Volleyball Championships (Friday and Saturday) at Galena High School.
“It’s amazing,” Christl said Wednesday afternoon after CHS wrapped up its practice for its semifinal match Friday at 6:20 p.m. against Coronado. “I’ve been working hard in the program all four years and leading up to this it’s great. I’m definitely going to take advantage of it. An opportunity like this only comes every once in a while.
“I’ll probably be a little emotional. Tomorrow will be the last time I’ll practice and be on this court. I’ll miss it and the girls. We really bonded together this year.”
And, the season has been a success. The team placed second in regionals, and according to school records, reached state for the first time since 1987.
And, while the Senators have their share of stars in Jaycie Roberts. Juliana Anderson and Maddie Jergesen, you can’t go as far as the Senators have gone this year without role players like Christl, who is one of Carson’s top servers and a good defensive player.
Christl has served as the No. 2 setter the last two years, though she did start the latter part of her junior year when the starting setter was dismissed from the team.
“She is a defensive minded girl,” Carson coach Robert Maw said. “I have mainly used her on defense, though she can do other things.”
Like hit the ball. Maw saw her go 9-for-9 hitting in a JV match against Damonte, and knew she was ready to step up to varsity, and her versatility has been huge. That JV season, she played right side and set.
Her tenacity and toughness is evident right away.
Being a good defensive player is all about effort, and Christl gives it on every play. It takes a lot of courage and concentration to stand up to some of the ferocious spikes that come her way during the course of a match.
“I don’t like to let a lot of balls hit the floor,” Christl said. “Personally, I like setting better.”
Christl is fifth on the team with 92 digs, first in serving percentage (94 percent), and second in assists with 65.
“She is our most reliable server,” Maw said. “This year she’s at 94 and I think last year she was at 92 or 93. When she goes back to serve, I’m not worried about an error.”
Of Christl’s 65 assists, 37 came against McQueen. With Carson trailing 0-2, Christl replaced Natalie Anderson and had a huge game.
“She set really well that night,” Maw said. “She brought us back. That win set us up for the rest of the year.”
“I think so,” she said when asked if that was the highlight of her season. “We couldn’t afford to lose. I wasn’t willing to let that happen.”
Christl is not a slave to style when it comes to setting. She doesn’t care how she gets it to her hitter, she just wants it to get there.
“A lot depends on the pass,” she said. “If I can get it up, I’ll do it. I want to get the ball to the hitters where they like to get it.”
Maybe her biggest contribution is the leadership she brings being the only senior on the team.
“Her legacy is the positive attitude she brings,” Maw said. “Both of the Douglas (losses) the look on her face in the huddles. She doesn’t like to lose. The girls were feeding off that.”
Christl is the positive one. She doesn’t get negative and you never see her get on a teammate. And, she plays with a smile on her face much of the time.
“I’m the uplifting sister,” Christl said. “We’re all sisters out there. Sometimes I‘m the momma bear. Other times they are supporting me.
“I like to be vocal and make people laugh out there. If you’re not happy (and having fun) out there, what’s the point.”
And, that’s typical of Christl. She loves volleyball to a point. She treats it like a game, but knows it’s just a game.
“There were other things that I wanted to do,” she said.
Concentrating on academics is the biggest one. Christl is in the running to be class valedictorian. She carries a 4.85 GPA, and admits that being a student athlete and maintaining a high GPA has been challenging.
However, it’s a challenge she has met head on with the same gusto that she approaches volleyball.