Few players returned to the Hunter volleyball team after the Wolverines finished second in Region 2 last season.
Finding leadership early on was essential for the Wolverines, and they found it in senior middle blocker Shalai Matagi.
"I'm always talking, so it comes pretty naturally for me," said Matagi, a team captain this season. "Most of the time I don't even notice I'm doing it."
She knows what it takes to play in the pressure situations after competing in the state tournament last season. She has shown that she has the ability to take over matches if that is what her team needs.
Matagi showcased her abilities against Murray last month. The Wolverines fell behind by two sets, but Matagi responded by going on a spiking rampage to lead her team to victory. She hammered 13 kills and added three blocks in the match.
"She is a leader in the way she plays," Hunter coach Pam Olson said. "She gets along with the older players, and she helps the younger players."
Matagi focused her attention on helping her teammates play together. She stressed that volleyball is a team game during two preseason tournaments, and she said she thinks the team now realizes that unity will be what gets Hunter back to the state tournament.
"I realize that my high-school career is almost over, so I hope I get another chance to make it back," Matagi said. "We did lose a lot from last year, but we can be just as good this year, if not better. My goal is for Hunter to be better when I leave than it was when I got here."
Senior middle blocker Shalai Matagi had 13 kills and three blocks in Hunter's comeback win against Murray.
Matagi, one of two seniors on the team, is one of the three team captains.
The Wolverines played in the Hunter Volleyball Tournament and the Round Table Rumble at Northridge High School in preparation for the regular season.