Her leadership and consistent play has earned Gridley High School's Erica Plasencia an invitation to the northern section all-star volleyball game on December 7 at Butte College.

Her leadership and consistent play has earned Gridley High School's Erica Plasencia an invitation to the northern section all-star volleyball game on December 7 at Butte College.


Players are invited based on nominations from coaches. Bulldogs coach Sarah Tamagni nominated Plasencia, but she also needed many other votes from other coaches in the section to qualify.


"I nominated Erica personally because I feel as though she brought a lot to our team as an athlete and as a captain," Tamagni said. "She is a hard worker and really puts forth a lot of effort to improve herself. She is extremely motivated and intense and you see it out on the court."


Tamagni handed her the invitation to the all-star game and told her to read it.


"It was just a shock, I didn't expect it," Plasencia said. "But I was really happy at the same time."


Plasencia, a senior, was Gridley's libero this season. The libero is a defensive position that requires a strong leader just for taking on the challenge. Tamagni said it's a position on the court that's taken for granted at times.


"You don't realize that she is out on the court the entire time," she said. "Her one mistake may look horrible, but that's one mistake out of 10. You are constantly moving, constantly getting worn down. It's a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. When you are made libero, you are basically labeled as the best defensive player out on that court."


Plasencia led the Bulldogs with 257 digs this year, an average of 3 per game, and in serve receptions with 296. Her own serving percentage was second highest on the team at 97.5 percent, and she had 27 aces and only seven errors on 283 serves.


Her work ethic was one of her biggest strengths, and she tried to hold everybody else to the same standard. Tamagni said she takes the game seriously, and it's hard for that to not rub off on everyone else.


"If girls are starting to let down or slack off at practice, she gets on them right away to keep at it and take it seriously," she said. "She hustles at all times and never lets down. I can always expect 110 percent from her with a big smile."


Plasencia was a leader by example as well as vocally. She said that's just the way she is, she's not afraid to step up to the plate and encourage someone to do better, or to get everyone working together.


"If someone's forgetting to do something, I'll remind them," she said. "They know what they're supposed to do, they just need to be reminded every once in a while. So do I."


She said the game was a great opportunity and that she's nervous and excited all at the same time.


The season ended for Gridley with a playoff loss to Central Valley High School on Tuesday, and Plasencia is still thinking about whether she wants to play in college next year. One thing's for sure, the Bulldogs will miss her.


"I have really enjoyed coaching Erica over these past two years," Tamagni said. "She is one of those athletes that refreshes you as a coach and makes you enjoy every minute. I will really miss her next year, on and off the court."