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Gadda proves to be big hit for Truckee volleyball

ERICK STUDENICKA

Don’t try to “short change” Tahoe-Truckee High School senior Monica Gadda when evaluating her volleyball talent.

At five feet, four inches tall, the diminutive Wolverine seems to be the perfect height for either a setter or defensive specialist – the two positions in volleyball where height isn’t a factor.

But in fact, Gadda, 17, has become one of Division I’s leading outside hitters. Gadda has played every point for Truckee in the preseason, helping Truckee race out to a 4-2 non-league record. She was also the only Truckee player to be named to the all-tournament team at both the Incline and Mammoth tournaments.

“When we started playing volleyball in seventh grade, everyone was around the same size – that’s when I started playing on the outside,” Gadda said. “I can set fine now if I have to, but I never really wanted to be a setter. It’s a hard job and we already have two setters (Sandy Thiel and Virginia Wise) who have been doing well.”

Although small in stature, Wolverine coach Maggie Shane said Gadda is a huge floor presence for Truckee.

“Monica is a floor captain who’s the glue which holds the team together,” Shane said. “She has exceptional skill and the ability to read where the ball will go; her only disadvantage is her height.”

Gadda doesn’t waste time lamenting her height.

“Sometimes I wish I had a few more inches and was 5’7″ or 5’8″, but an outside hitter doesn’t have to pound the ball like a middle hitter,” Gadda said. “An outside hitter can play ‘smart’ and place the ball with tips.”

Gadda, who possesses a 17-inch vertical leap, said her height disadvantage is more a factor on defense rather than offense.

“Blocking is probably my weakest point,” Gadda said. “I can usually get my hand on the ball, but I never seem to get a solid block.”

Gadda said the Wolverines appear to be improved over the 1996 squad which finished in fifth place in the state 3A tournament.

“I think the team’s chances for a state championship are much better this year for several reasons,” Gadda said. “The team unity is very good this year; this group of girls grew up playing together. We also have good height on the front row with Krissy Silva, Carrie Teague and Nicole Urata.”

“Last year at the state tournament, we didn’t play up to our ability,” Gadda said. “We wanted to take it farther, but the team lost its enthusiasm. When we lost to Battle Mountain (which eventually took second at state), fatigue hit us and we were intimidated.”

Gadda said fatigue will be no problem for the Wolverines this year, thanks to the conditioning of Truckee assistant coach Tae Kim.

“We hate conditioning, but it will help us in the long run,” Gadda said. “One of the weaknesses of last year’s team was that we didn’t continue our conditioning through the season.”

Due to her size, Gadda believes a run at the state title this year will probably be her final “hurrah” in serious volleyball. As Shane points out, “There’s not much future for a 5’4″ outside hitter in college.”

“I don’t foresee myself playing volleyball in college,” said Gadda, who hopes to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara, next fall and major in either law or science. “Most colleges don’t take short players, except for special defense.”

Gadda’s athletic career won’t end, however, when the volleyball season concludes. She’s earmarked to be the Wolverines’ starting varsity pitcher this spring on the softball squad. Last year, she was an all-division second-baseman for Truckee, leading the team in runs scored.

“To be honest, I’m not looking forward to being the pitcher; I’d rather play the infield,” Gadda said. “But I’ll do it if I have to.”

While Gadda has no regrets about her height, she does wonder how good the Truckee team might be if the girls had had the opportunity to play organized volleyball while in elementary school.

“It’s a shame girls don’t start at an earlier age in Truckee,” Gadda said. “Unlike basketball or softball, there are no recreational leagues for young volleyball players in Truckee.”

Volleyball results

The biggest game of the week for the Wolverines, the league opener against North Tahoe scheduled for Sept. 23, was postponed due to a power failure at North Tahoe High School. Shane said the game will be rescheduled and will likely be played in mid-October.

Truckee’s recent highlight was a third-place finish at the Mammoth Tournament Sept. 20. After finishing with a 4-2 record in pool play, Truckee advanced to the finals. The Wolverines defeated Carson 10-15, 15-2, 15-6 to advance in the playoffs, but the team lost to North Tahoe 9-15, 8-15 in the semifinal. In the third place game, Truckee defeated Chadwick 15-8.

Thiel led the Wolverines with 15 kills, while Silva registered 11 kills. Gadda and Silva were named to the all-tournament team.

The Wolverines also dropped two non-league games, losing to Manogue 5-15, 8-15, 15-17 on Sept. 17 and 15-7, 6-15, 2-15, 10-15 to Dayton Sept. 24.

“We had trouble adjusting to Dayton’s game; they were scrappy,” Shane said. “We had a poor passing and serving game.”

Truckee hosted Fernley Tuesday night in the team’s league opener. The result of the game was not available. The Wolverines’ next home game is Tuesday, Oct. 7, against Manogue. The junior varsity team opens play at 5 p.m.; the varsity are set to begin at 6:30 p.m.


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