Leslie Sorensen remembers when Rachael Schaefer was 4 or 5 years old and was running around the gym and under the bleachers at Redwood volleyball matches.
That was more than 10 years ago, when Sorensen was coaching at Redwood and Schaefer's older sister was a Ranger.
Sorensen and Schaefer are now both at El Diamante.
Sorensen is the Miners' coach and Schaefer is the team's star player.
Together, along with a talented group of juniors, the Miners made history by winning the program's first Central Section Division II championship.
Schaefer, a 6-foot-0 outside hitter, led the way, finishing the season with 329 kills, a .365 hitting percentage and was an All-West Yosemite League first team selection.
For her efforts, Schaefer was named the 2012 Times-Delta/Advance-Register Tulare County volleyball player of the year. She is the first Miner to win the award.
"She got a lot stronger this year and got just that much better," Sorensen said. "We have a group of juniors that molded well together. She made leaps and bounds in her improvement from last year. She's an all-around player, who led the team in kills and hitting percentage. Defensively, she's very good also."
With a talented group of players around her, Schaefer said her job has been made a lot easier.
She knows she is going to get perfect passes from her teammates, and with a big 6-foot-2 middle hitter in Lauren Torres drawing attention, she has the freedom to take her shots.
"My setters are amazing and all of our hitters are really good," Schaefer said. "I don't have to carry the team. I can rely on my teammates if I'm off."
Schaefer made the most of her opportunity with her accurate hitting percentage, which also takes into account errors.
"She was hard to read," Sorensen said. "She got her kills in a variety of ways. The biggest deception she had was hitting down the line, the way she was facing and was able to hit across her body to fool a lot of defenders down the line. She fooled a lot of people."
Sorensen said the way Schaefer sets up her kills isn't exactly fundamentally correct, but it is getting results, so why mess with a good thing?
"She's a finesse layer so she has a selection of shots," Sorensen said. "She doesn't totally turn her shoulders, which makes her deceptive. She never makes that final turn, but we're getting results from what she's doing, so we're not complaining."
Schaefer's technique may not be 100 percent ideal, but she knows exactly what she is doing on the court. She plays volleyball year-round and is on a club team coached by Dave Huerta.
"I play all year-round," she said. "I have school, then I have club. Hopefully I can play in college. That's my goal, I'm trying to get a scholarship."
College is definitely something on her mind, but that's still a year away. In the meantime, Schaefer is thinking about defending the team's West Yosemite League and Central Section championships.
"We've always been one of the teams everybody wants to beat," Schaefer said. "I don't think anything will be different next year."