Before each home match, the Cathedral Catholic (Calif.) volleyball team circles up to pray in the locker room, and on their way out, each girl jumps to hit the door frame. For Jenna Hanes, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker, it’s more of a skip than a jump.
But regardless, it’s working.
Cathedral Catholic is 26-0 and ranked No. 1 in the latest Just Women’s Sports volleyball team rankings. This past weekend, the San Diego team won the Durango Fall Classic, one of the most competitive national tournaments in the country, and in seven matches, the Dons didn’t drop a set, ultimately besting reigning state Champion Marymount.
Coach Juliana Conn has three middle blockers, and in previous tournaments she rotated them. But when they got to the DFC, Conn had a feeling that Hanes belonged on the court.
And she was right.
Hanes was crowned tournament MVP, and along the way she earned JWS Player of the Week honors. Since winning the DFC, Hanes and the rest of the Cathedral Catholic team have continued to roll, with a road sweep against La Jolla on Tuesday and another against Point Loma on Thursday.
“The competition brought the best out of her,” Conn said. “She was really on a mission to stop them blocking-wise. I think everything came together for her. We’re playing a big, high-profile tournament for high school, and it was her time to shine. I don’t think she had a mistake.”
The Dons knew going into the Finals of the DFC that Marymount would be a tough match, but they made it a clean sweep, winning 25-20, 25-17.
“The last point, everyone running in and celebrating, that was one of my favorite moments,” Hanes said. “It was super cool being named MVP in one of the best tournaments in the nation. So many people played great. It could’ve gone to any of them.”
This season, the majority of the girls on the Cathedral Catholic team are seniors, including the third-ranked Recruit nationally, Julia Blyashov. Hanes, a junior, is new to the program but has played with most of the girls in club volleyball.
“When I came in as a transfer, they were all super encouraging and nice and welcoming,” Hanes said. “They keep practice at such a high level. I get to learn from them firsthand and improve my game from that.”
Hanes started playing volleyball when she was in the third grade. Her mom, Kara Hanes, is a former member of the US Women’s national team and was an All-American at UCLA. Naturally, Kara introduced her daughter to the sport, and it was love at first sight.
In fifth grade, Jenna started playing club volleyball, and in eighth grade, she set her sights on playing college volleyball.
In 2024, she’ll do just that — Jenna made a verbal commitment in July to play volleyball at the University of Michigan.
From the moment she stepped onto the Ann Arbor campus, she immediately felt at home.
“It just seemed like my type of place,” Hanes said.
Jenna hopes to one day follow in her mom’s footsteps and play for Team USA, but in the meantime, she’ll enjoy the rest of her high school career at Cathedral Catholic, forming Unbreakable bonds along the way.
Nika Anschuetz is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @nlanschuetz.