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Kenmore East spikers lauded for togetherness, Schwob leads that effort

If the 2012 edition of the Kenmore East Lady Bulldogs volleyball team left a legacy it was of staying together-no matter what the final score showed.

Their undying love for the game never wavered even after losing three straight sets to North Tonawanda and being eliminated from the playoffs.

“They asked if they could still practice,” coach Nicole Hoover said with a smile. “They love playing.”

That passion to keep playing, even after falling short of their expectations in the wins department, spoke volumes of the kind of character and togetherness of this group.

“It was a lot more positive (this year) and more together,” senior Jackie Schwob said of the team chemistry.

Hoover often said that these were the kind of girls that anyone would love to have for a daughter because they were such great people to be around and always represented their school with class.

“I think that’s the success of the team,” Hoover explained. “Anytime you lose, you want to blame someone. I think they all took the blame where it needed to be and they all wanted to do better.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think the season was long enough to make that happen,” she added. “But they took responsibility for wins and losses. And they were able to (build) off of even the small successes. It might not have been on the scoreboard, but they saw where they improved.”

The Bulldogs biggest hurdle seemed to be the mental side of the game. With the bulk of this team experiencing success in the past, especially at the junior varsity level, it was a bit of a wake-up call to deal with losses right out of the gate.

Hoover said her seniors-DeDee Rudroff, Chelsea Weselak, Jackie Schwob and Amanda Roberts were a huge part of everyone remaining focused and positive.

“I think what the seniors brought to the table was (the attitude) that you still keep pushing,” Hoover said. “That’s the one thing that I can’t say negatively about my team, even though they lost, they never gave us less than a hundred percent. They still went out the next game ready to win.”

The Bulldogs welcome back sophomores Paige Palmer and Nicole Giliforte. Juniors are Julia Snitzer, Maddy Dickson, Gabby Johns, Jesse Reardon, Cali Berry, and Allison Johnson.

Hoover is also looking for big contributions from Sara Taylor, who was a mid-season JV call-up that provided a huge spark for the Bulldogs.

Schwob to leave lasting impression

They are just two sheets of paper, but they both sum up the incredible impact Jackie Schwob had on her teammates.

When the Kenmore East Bulldogs girls volleyball team had their senior night a few weeks back, underclassmen Cali Berry and Maddy Dickson spoke from the heart about how much senior Jackie Schwob meant to them.

Dickson and Berry talked about what a warm, friendly, caring friend Schwob was and how she looked after them like a big sister. Hoping to make an impact is one thing, knowing that teammates hold you dear to their heart is another. Hearing that made Schwob take a step back and catch her breath.

“I definitely cried,” Schwob said. “After playing volleyball with them for so long, this is my third year with them, they’re a year younger. It just made me think about all the games that we had — lot of ups and downs as a team. A lot of bonds were formed.”

With her warm and funny personality, Schwob had a way of not only making every girl feel welcome, she also had the gift of brightening everyone’s day with a smile or a kind word.

“I try to be open minded and just really accepting, so I felt like a lot of the team could just come and talk to me because I’m someone who’s easy to talk to and not judgmental,” Schwob explained. “Or (I tried to be) just someone to vent at or someone to listen, too.”

Extremely modest, Schwob initially didn’t feel comfortable about being the center of attention for this story. It took a bit of coaxing from varsity coach Nicole Hoover to convince Schwob to go through with the interview.

Why did Hoover give Schwob that extra nudge? Simple. She wanted as many people as possible to know how special Schwob and how lucky she felt to coach her.

“You have to love her,” Hoover said with a smile. “Her parents are very lucky to have such a great daughter. Anybody would be proud of her.”

One of the top students at Kenmore East, Schwob is planning on studying biomedical science at the University at Buffalo after high school.

Part of the junior varsity team that went unbeaten two years ago, Schwob was a central figure in the program taking a new direction under Hoover’s watchful eye. But while Schwob was always good for

a laugh, she took her time on the court seriously. And Schwob’s personality was a huge part in the chemistry the Bulldogs maintained this year.

So what about those two senior night speeches? Well, Jackie said they’re tucked away in a special place as reminders of the bond she and her teammates, who became like sisters, had in the fall of 2012.

“I keep them in my room in a special box where I have all of my volleyball mementoes,” Schwob said with a grin. “I’ll probably take them with me to my dorm next year.”

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