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Thungc shines as Kentridge's defensive specialist
During her good games, Kentridge High volleyball player Mae Thungc typically comes in with nine to 14 digs to save the ball on a volley.
At the Chargers' match against rival Kentlake on Oct. 2, she grabbed 37 digs to set a school record, beating out previous record holder Kenna Satterstrom by four.
While setting a school record is an honor, it was the last thing on her mind during the games.
"When I found out about me setting the record I felt a rush of confidence," said the enthusiastic Kentridge junior. "It was also a sense of relief, like I know that I was doing well and doing my job."
After losing the first two games of the match, Kentridge came out swinging to beat Kentlake.
"We can't lose another one, or we're out, and then we pushed through the next three games," said Thungc, who plays libero, a position also known as a defensive specialist.
Thungc is happy for her success, but also feels that it reflects a larger trend of the team establishing cohesion after several weeks of losses. They're trusting each other more to do their jobs, Thungc said, and that has helped develop the chemistry needed to succeed.
Thungc discovered volleyball when she was 12 years old after trying several other activities, including track and choir. She was enticed to club volleyball by a friend's parents and having found a talent, stuck with the sport.
"It was a sport to play with, a thing to hold on to through the years," she said. "It's a thing that I can concentrate on, one thing that motivates me to get on with life."
The record is indicative of a girl who's spent much of her life playing volleyball, often giving up other aspects of her life to keep playing.
"There's tournaments on weekends, a lot of the weekends, and that's when my friends and I want to hang out," she said.
Other times, Thungc has to choose between getting enough sleep after a five-game match or studying for a test the next day.
While Thungc looks up to her fellow athletes for support and inspiration, she said that her parents have been the biggest drivers behind her dedication to volleyball.
"They are my biggest supporters, and they are my role models," she said.
Her mother and father fled to the United States with their parents as Laotian refugees from the Vietnam War. Thungc said she is inspired by their ability to make a successful life and career after arriving in America with few skills and not knowing English. Their perseverance is what inspires her to attend college and play volleyball at a collegiate or professional level after high school.
She's considering schools with a good communications program and volleyball team, preferably out of state.
"Mostly because I want a fresh start where I don't really know people," she said.
After beating Mount Rainier on Tuesday, Kentridge (4-3, 4-8) hosts Thomas Jefferson at 7:15 p.m. Oct. 29.