San Luis Obispo High junior volleyball player Maggie Eppright has an unshakeable condition, one that could get her in trouble with officials.
“If I see the ball,” she said, “I have to go for it.”
During a match against Notre Dame Academy of Los Angeles in a tournament in Simi Valley last season, the ball went haywire and headed toward the stands. Eppright was the only one on the court who decided to go for it.
She raced up the stands, brought the ball back into play and the Tigers eventually earned a point. The play, which San Luis Obispo coach Manny Carter called “highly illegal,” stunned the few people who were watching inside the gym. Officials allowed the play to move forward, perhaps feeling shocked, Carter noted.
“We were all confused about what happened for a second,” Eppright said. “It was weird.”
The scene paints a picture of a player who was practically everywhere on the court and did whatever was necessary to keep her team in a match. Eppright’s efforts helped San Luis Obispo to a PAC 7 title with an 11-2 record, a 27-7 overall mark and a first-round sweep of Rancho Cucamonga in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1A playoffs.
She finished with 248 digs and 757 assists, more than enough for the 5-foot-5 setter to be named The Tribune’s County Player of the Year.
The last time a Tigers player won the honor was when Ashley Adams did so in 2006.
“She did a great job being the quarterback that we needed,” Carter said. “She did a good job leading our team and bringing everyone together when things weren’t going well. For her to do that as a junior, it means a lot, as far as her personality and the things she can accomplish, for her future.”
Eppright came into this season with little varsity experience, having only played at that level during the postseason of the previous season. She also had to make a transition, switching from libero — a position she grew comfortable with as a member of the 805 Elite Volleyball Club — to setter.
Carter found out immediately what type of player he picked up, as Eppright risked her body diving for balls and had a knack for running up the stands. And that go-for-broke attitude to volleyball never stopped throughout the season, as the Tigers went on to capture back-to-back league titles.
“It was really nice,” Carter said about Eppright’s relentless effort. “She just helped with every single play. It really helped us win a lot of matches.”
Besides that no-ball-is-ever-dead moment, Eppright said sweeping Arroyo Grande on Oct. 20 in front of a packed San Luis Obispo home crowd, including support from the school’s football players, was one match that stood out. It gave the Tigers the outright PAC 7 title, as Arroyo Grande finished a 10-2 league record.
“I think we were expecting to do well in the season, but we were taking it one game at a time,” Eppright said. “We just had great team chemistry. We just had a bunch of people on the court who were willing to do anything to win.”
Yes, the Tigers had the likes of other all-county team members in libero Linnea Ramirez, outside hitter Jessica Chellsen, outside hitter/middle blocker Amelia Brown, middle blocker Skylar McSorely and opposite hitter Ariel Becker, but the one who stood out was Eppright — a player willing to do anything for her team, even if it means going beyond her limits.
ALL-COUNTY Volleyball team
Player of the Year
San Luis Obispo (S, Jr.)
Atascadero (OH/MB, Sr.)
Atascadero (S, Sr.)
Coast Union (S, Sr.)
Paso Robles (MB, Jr.)
San Luis Obispo (L, Sr.)
San Luis Obispo (OH, Sr.)
Arroyo Grande (OH, Jr.)
Mission Prep (OH, Jr.)
Arroyo Grande (S, Jr.)
Arroyo Grande (MB, Sr.)
San Luis Obispo (OPP, Jr.)
Mary Kate Evans
Atascadero (MB, Jr.)
Paso Robles (S, Sr.)
San Luis Obispo (OH/MB, Sr.)
Coastal Christian (MB, Jr.)
Templeton (OH, Sr.)
Arroyo Grande — Jade Fuller (L, Jr.)
Atascadero — Kendall Featherstone (OH, So.)
Coastal Christian — JoAnn Lindstaedt (S, Jr.)
Coast Union — Nicky Ortiz (MB, Sr.)
Mission Prep — Sadie Casacca (OH, Sr.)
Morro Bay — Kylie Gacad (S, Sr.), Monica Santiago (L, Sr.), Jill Brown (OH, Jr.)
Nipomo — Cristina Ozzimo (S, Jr.), Stephanie Persky (OH, Jr.), Sarah Stahl (L, Jr.)
San Luis Obispo — Skylar McSorely (MB, Sr.)
Paso Robles — Emily Cone (MB, Sr.)
Shandon — Dontavia Henderson (MB, Jr.), Kayla Celis (OH, Sr.)
Templeton — Sydney Roth (S, Sr.), Sarah Kretzu (OH, Sr.), Alyssa Price (MB, Sr.)