Of all the things that Jenny Evans does well on a volleyball court, and that's a lot, nothing grabs as much attention as her talent for ending a point with the crush of her hand.
For three seasons at Newport Harbor High School, Evans, a senior, has been one of Orange County's top hitters, adept at scoring big points with a big thump.
And yet, what has made her The Times' girls' volleyball player of the year is her ability to do everything right.
"If you watch her, really watch her whole game, you see that she's strong at all facets," said Dan Glenn, Newport Harbor coach. "In fact, I think what makes her so good is her back-row play."
The back row is as far from the net, and hitting, as you can get on a volleyball court. It's where the first pass usually is made. Where, as Evans puts it, "the point is set up."
A bad pass from the back row probably will produce a bad set, which leads to a weak hit.
"Passing is, by far, the most important skill you learn," Evans said.
"It's the hardest to learn. It looks easy to control a ball, but it's not. I remember when I was a sophomore, Brooke Herrington (of Corona del Mar) hit a ball that I tried to get to, but she hit it so hard the ball ended up hitting me in the face and knocked me straight back."
This season, Evans' all-around skills have placed her hip-high in hardware. She has been named the most valuable player of several tournaments, the Sea View League and the Southern Section's 5-A division. On Tuesday, she was named Volleyball Monthly's national co-player of the year with Julie Bremner of St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Ill.
Evans led Newport Harbor to an undefeated regular season, a league title, the 5-A championship and the final of the state championships.
Evans didn't do it alone. Any team that featured setter Sienna Curci and hitters Anastasia Arnold and Becky Sherwood was bound to go somewhere, but Glenn concedes that, "teams key so much on Jenny, it opens it up for others."
Still, when a game was close, more often than not, Evans was at the center of the action.
"She wants to be the one making the pass or the save or the hit when the score is 13-13," Glenn said. "She definitely rises to the occasion. I've seen plenty of good players early in a game who disappear when the game is close at the end."
Outside Hitters Jenny Evans Newport Harbor Senior Elaine Youngs El Toro Senior Middle Blockers Cari Delson Irvine Senior Bev Oden Irvine Senior Setters Rhonda Schnitger Corona del Mar Senior Sienna Curci Newport Harbor Junior
Outside Hitters Laurie Jones Huntington Beach Senior Laurie Wooten Corona del Mar Senior Middle Blockers Dawn Charroin Marina Senior Sharon Kasser Huntington Beach Senior Setters Heidi Anderson Esperanza Junior Nicole Smith Mater Dei Senior