SBCC freshman volleyball player has impressive freshman season

Kaylene+Ureno%2C+City+College+freshman+volleyball+player%2C+has+been+a+valuable+member+of+the+team+with+securing+a+14-3+record%2C+Tuesday+Oct.+4%2C+in+the+Sports+Pavilion+at+City+College.+The+Santa+Barbara+Athletic+Round+Table+also+selected+Ureno+for+athlete+of+the+week+on+Sept.+19.

ISABELLE SINIBALDI

Kaylene Ureno, City College freshman volleyball player, has been a valuable member of the team with securing a 14-3 record, Tuesday Oct. 4, in the Sports Pavilion at City College. The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table also selected Ureno for athlete of the week on Sept. 19.

MICK WALCHLI, Channels Staff

Tall, determined and humble, freshman Kaylene Ureno is leading the third-ranked Vaqueros volleyball team to its best start in college history.

In her first season, she has posted an average of 8.7 points per game, while winning 16 of her first 19 starts for the Vaqueros. The Independent last month also named her athlete of the week in recognition for her outstanding play. Her teammates recognize that her hard work paid off for the freshman tremendously this season.

“She will stay after an already long practice to do a really difficult stadium stairs workout,” said Stephanie Keenan.

The Turlock California native has a profound love for the sport, which she has played year-round since junior high. Ureno eventually started seeing the court for the powerhouse John Pitman varsity volleyball team her junior year. She entered her senior season more determined than ever.

“I barely played my junior season,” she said. “We had a lot of seniors that year, and I left my junior season with a drive to start every match senior season and go from there.”

From there, Ureno led Pitman to a deep postseason run before falling one game short of making the state tournament. City College head volleyball coach Ed Gover saw Kaylene’s defense and hitting as a perfect match for his now third-ranked squad.

“Her length, power, and athleticism stood out the first time I watched Ureno play,” Gover said. “She is a nightmare matchup for most of our opponents because of her size and finesse.”

Teammates say she is a person who displays excellent character both on and off the court.

“She stays her usual kind and bubbly self on the court,” Keenan said. “She also has a focus that is unmatched when she plays.”

Gover believes Ureno’s humility will be lead to more success as her college careers progresses.

For someone that has already achieved so much in her brief career, she has a humility that is almost at the collegiate level,” Gover said. “She comes in ready to play every day and it rubs off well onto the rest of our squad.”

Ureno has stuffed the statistics sheet for the Vaqueros by averaging seven digs and six kills a match. Statistics are a small piece of the pie for her, however, as she has her eyes on something much larger. A prize that is only attainable through persistent preparation for a more intense competition

“Our goal here at City College is to win a state championship,” Ureno said. “We want to make our practices intense so the matches are easier, in a sense, than the game.”

Gover admires how hard his team, in particular Ureno, practices. He believes the vigorous practice has been the main reason the team has the best start in the college’s history.

“We have had very intense and efficient practices since the summer,” Gover said. “The freshman are starting to look like veterans.”

The third-ranked squad is one of few teams expected to compete for a state championship this year. Scouts and analysts alike will have their eyes on how well Ureno plays down the stretch, with hopes of winning something she has always wanted.

“The one thing I did not get in high school was a state championship,” she said. “I’m confident that our squad can win one this year if we keep up this stellar play.”

In sacrifice to working or having a social life, her schedule revolves around volleyball, school and sleep–all while attending City College.

Ureno hopes to transfer to a four-year University, and earn a scholarship to play for a Division One women’s volleyball team. She then will either finish her athletic career and become a nurse or seek to play professionally in the international ranks.

“I’ll go as far as the game takes me,” she said. “Whether it be Spain or Lithuania, I want to go as far as volleyball will take me.

For now, Ureno is going to run, jump, and dive on the court and continue to run up the La Playa Stadium stairs after a two-hour long practice.