Madison Nash had extra motivation heading into her third and final season with Ceres High's varsity girls volleyball program.
"Knowing this was my last year playing, I wanted to make it count," said Nash, who earned a scholarship to the University of Arizona. "I'm going to focus on academics in college."
Madison's maximum effort on the court didn't go unnoticed.
Nash and fellow Bulldog team captain Alyssa Stiles, and Central Valley's Brianna Quiroz were recognized in a vote by the Western Athletic Conference's head coaches on Oct. 26 in Ceres.
"I was very surprised because there were a lot of good girls in our league and on our team," Nash said while talking about being honored for the second year in a row. "When I found out, the first thing I did was text my mother. It just shows I have amazing support behind me. I'm so thankful to everyone that pushed me to get to where I am."
Nash earned second-team all-conference honors for the second consecutive season.
Stiles and Quiroz were also selected to the WAC Second Team.
"I'm so proud of them," Bulldogs' head coach Darlene Tobler said.
"I nominated Brianna Quiroz for a number of reasons," Hawks' head coach Regina Selfridge said. "When we had an unexpected injury that took our middle out I knew that Brianna would step up and fill the position to the best of her ability. She is aggressive at the net, is smart at the net, and adjusts quickly to her opponents. As an added bonus she gets extremely pumped up when she is able to stuff a block back at her opponent."
Madison totaled 241 digs, 112 kills, 18 aces and two assists.
"I exceeded my goals," Nash said. "When I started, I didn't know how to play. Our coaches built me up. I started with the basics, grew and improved. I made sure I put my full potential out there. I went above and beyond for my team."
Nash's volleyball career spanned seven years, including three seasons at the varsity level in high school.
"I made so many great bonds," Nash said. "I know those relationships are going to last. I'll miss my coaches, especially Tobler. She coached me all four years in high school. She taught me everything. She was always there for me if I ever needed anything or guidance. I consider her a role model. She's an amazing woman."
Alyssa, a second-year varsity player, collected 248 digs, 124 kills, 87 blocks, 34 aces and nine assists.
She earned honorable-mention recognition as a sophomore.
"I'm so proud of her for excelling," Nash said. "She's one of my best friends. Moving forward, she's going to keep doing better. She's going to have to step up and take that leadership role."
Quiroz developed into Central Valley's best all-round player during the course of the 2017 season.
"We have quite a few talented players with a lot of experience between them," Selfridge said. "Brianna is one of those players. She is a quiet leader in the sense that she leads by example. She just does her job and she gives it everything she has. Brianna played a key role this year for us. She has great serves, she is a threat at the net for blocking and hitting middle. She is one of our top passers and she is not afraid to throw her body to the ground to peel a ball up off the floor. If that weren't enough she is also very encouraging to her teammates."
Quiroz was a role player as a sophomore.
"I got to play a lot more this year," she said. "I did what I had to do for my team. I gave my all. I worked really had. I had a good attitude."
Central Valley (7-8) and Ceres High (5-10) placed third and fourth, respectively, in the 2017 WAC standings.
The Hawks just missed securing their fourth consecutive playoff berth.
The Bulldogs failed in their quest to participate in the postseason for the second year in a row.
"We only had four returning players," Nash said. "It was a rebuilding year. We always focused on the positives rather than the negatives."
"I am disappointed because I definitely think we should have been in playoffs," Quiroz said. "Our chemistry was really good. We all clicked."
Central Valley nearly knocked off WAC-champion Los Banos.
The Hawks lost in five games (25-21, 23-25, 26-28, 25-13, 15-11) to the Tigers on Oct. 16 in Ceres.
"That was the best we played all year," Quiroz said. "They beat every other team in three or four games. We had them on their toes. They were scared."
Central Valley and Ceres High will compete in different leagues next fall.
The Hawks will move to the Central California Conference.
The Bulldogs will remain in the WAC.
Both conferences are being revamped as part of the Sac-Joaquin Section's realignment plan.
"We're moving to a harder division," Quiroz said. "We have to perform better. I don't mind being a team leader. I should be able to handle the pressure."