Sharks volleyball honors quintet during Senior Night 

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(From left) Malibu High girls volleyball players Kate Mulder, Coco Lupo, Valeria Marquez, and Jasmine Bellamy (a junior who will be moving out of the country) are honored during Senior Night before the Sharks' game against Hueneme on Oct. 5. Photo by Derek Saenz

Malibu High coach commends the departing players for sticking with team after having no freshman season

The last two contests of the Malibu High girls volleyball team’s season were away games this week. 

Contests on the road are special memories that Sharks senior outside hitter Coco Lupo will always hold onto. However, it is not because she enjoyed chasing victory in opposing teams’ gyms. Lupo thinks about time spent with her teammates.

“During tournaments, we would have a long day of playing, so we would go to some fast food restaurant somewhere and eat junk and just talk about stuff,” she recalled. 

Her classmate and teammate Milan Kelly, also an outside hitter, has similar thoughts.

“The joy of all of us together and experiencing the bus rides — all those funny moments,” she said. “If we lose or win, we lift each other up. Those are moments to remember. Those moments built a bond.”

The volleyball players said their last home game of the season, a five-set loss to the Hueneme Vikings on Oct. 5, was just as momentous because it was the team’s Senior Night celebration.

Kelly, Lupo, and fellow 12th-graders Kate Mulder and Valeria Marquez were recognized during the contest along with junior libero Jasmine Bellamy, who is moving out of the country. 

The celebration included a decorated gym and cheering crowd. The seniors had their pictures taken and were given flowers. The entire team wore matching pink socks. 

Mulder appreciated being commended on Senior Night.

“The game had a good turnout,” she said. “It was fun to be recognized.” 

Malibu won the first and third sets against the Vikings but lost the second and fourth sets. They lost the final set by a couple of points. 

Lupo said Malibu’s performance against Hueneme was the squad’s best of the season.

“We really, really wanted it,” she said. “We wanted to win. We gave it our all. I was proud of everyone by the end of it.” 

Malibu head coach Derek Saenz said the seniors and Bellamy all had positive impacts on the volleyball team.

“They all added to the program,” he said. “Their personalities, what they bring in the gym with them, is all great.” 

The seniors’ freshman volleyball season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They stepped on the court together the next year. 

Their coach commended the Sharks’ departing players for sticking with the team despite not having a freshman season. 

“These girls went through a lot, but stuck with it,” Saenz noted.

Marquez, a middle blocker and outside hitter, said the girls kept each other positive. 

“If one of us was not in the loop, we’d be like, ‘Hey snap out of it,’” she said. “We have each other’s back, which is nice.” 

Malibu claimed victories over Monrovia, Lynwood, Mendez, Camino Nuevo Dalzell Lance Campus, Channel Islands, Fillmore, and de Toledo before the close of their 2023 campaign this week. 

Kelly said their 3-0 triumph over de Toledo on Sept. 28 was outstanding. 

“We had a lot of fun and did very well,” she said.

Malibu faced Channel Islands on Monday and Fillmore on Wednesday.

The Sharks, Saenz said, were a versatile and physical team. 

“When we played well, we looked like the best team in the Citrus Coast League,” he said.

Mulder, a setter, described Malibu as a close-knit group. 

“I will always remember the seniors as great girls,” she said. “All of the girls are fun to be around. I love them.”