Le Jardin Girls’ Volleyball Team Hones Competitive Edge

Should the Le Jardin girls’ varsity volleyball team qualify for the state tournament in 2013, the Bulldogs undoubtedly will look back on an intensity-filled fall camp as having laid the groundwork.

“Every day we’re truly having a competitive practice,” said Le Jardin head coach Ed Chun. “It’s a big luxury as a coach to have that competitive level every day. This team – (team member) one through 12 – has probably the most depth of any of the teams I’ve coached. There’s not much of a drop-off after our first six (in the lineup).”

Chun, a longtime volleyball coach in the community, is in his second year building the Le Jardin program. He also is the Kalaheo boys’ head varsity coach in the spring, in addition to the events and clinics he oversees through Lanikai Athletic Club.

“The only break I get is when I blink – there’s no rest to be the best,” said Chun.

His 2013 LJA varsity team is in the regroup mode after 10 seniors from last year’s team completed their eligibility. Senior outside hitter Jasmine Baginski leads the way this time around.

“She has a good work ethic and, as a left-hander, when she’s attacking, she’s showing different angles (in her hitting) than a right-handed player,” Chun said of Baginski. “Her consistency and her experience in being a four-year player shows, and she’s not one-dimensional. She’s an all-around player.”

Baginski’s support will come largely from a talented junior class that includes setter Lili Maero, middle-blocker Hannah Hashimoto and defensive specialist Kelly Buck.

“Lili is a workhorse – we can always count on her to give us everything she has,” Chun said of Maero. “That goes for all the juniors we have.

“Kelly’s strength is her quickness – she’s small but very spunky,” he added of Buck. “Hannah is a vocal leader and another versatile player we can utilize.”

Sophomore libero Taylor Souza also figures big in Chun’s plans this season.

“Taylor is turning into a volleyball machine,” said Chun. “She’s dedicated to her game. She eats and breathes volleyball.”

In addition to the varsity team, LJA also has fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade teams, in addition to its intermediate and junior varsity teams. All told, more than 100 players currently are in the fold.

“The program is definitely growing,” said Chun. “We have great support from the school, and our numbers have grown through the year. We have 45 kids out for the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade teams. It’s exciting. We’re also excited about our incoming freshman class. We are calling our four the ‘fab four.'”

Le Jardin’s varsity team returns to action Saturday when the Bulldogs host Sacred Hearts Academy at 5 p.m. The Bulldogs begin Interscholastic League of Honolulu play Aug. 27 at home versus Hanalani (6 p.m.).