Fraga has Suns set up well in volleyball playoffs

November 2, 2012 

Kylie Fraga feels pain. She swears by it. She just doesn’t like to give in to it.

That’s why when she’s playing sports for Southridge, it will take more than the stomach flu or an elbow to the head or a fall to the floor to knock her out of a volleyball match.

“That is one thing I love about Kylie,” Southridge coach John Lengphounpraseut said. “She is not going to back off. When Kylie was sick, she was throwing up against Kennewick on the sidelines during warmup. She was only at 40 percent. The first two games, we were struggling without her energy on the court, but as the game went on, she got stronger and stronger.”

Fraga will lead the Suns against rival Kennewick at 4 p.m. today at Mt. Spokane in a Class 3A regional elimination match.

The junior has been playing volleyball since fifth grade and has always prided herself on her durability.

“I definitely don’t try to (come off the court),” she said. “If I get hurt, I’m not the first one to say I’m hurt and I need to come out. I stay on the court until someone pulls me out.

“I just know I can push through anything. I definitely feel pain. I just try to ignore it.”

That attitude has helped Fraga grow from a shy sophomore to a junior who is considered one of the best players in the Mid-Columbia Conference.

“Without her, we are a football team without a quarterback,” Lengphounpraseut said. “Her ability to save the ball off the net is greater than anybody’s setter out there. Her ability to chase the ball down, if you have a bad pass. Kylie just seems like she makes it easier, just some natural skill she has.”

Fraga started playing the sport when she couldn’t find an AAU basketball team to try out for. She became a setter halfway through her sixth-grade season, made varsity as a freshman and took over as the team’s setter when Andrea Smith graduated in 2011.

It has been a work in progress for Fraga. To be a really good setter is about more than just staying on the floor, or the athletic skill to get to passes no matter where they are.

It also requires the maturity to bark orders to the rest of the team -- no matter if they are seniors or freshmen.

“I was really shy last year. I didn’t talk as much,” Fraga said. “The setter usually has to be the one to direct everything. I think I’m doing a lot better this year.”

It is an area in which Lengphounpraseut would like to see Fraga improve, though he has seen her get better at reading defenses and moving the team in the right direction.

“Not so much setting the ball, but setting the games,” he said. “She has done a good job seeing what the opponent has and where to put the ball.”

Through it all — the maturation process, the flu, the hard knocks of an unforgiving gymnasium floor and the pressure of being a non-senior co-captain -- Fraga has helped the Suns pull within two victories of the state tournament.

“We’re a real young team right now, but this has been a pretty good season,” she said. “We just have to keep playing like we have the last two matches. We were really consistent the last two matches.”

w Craig Craker: 582-1509; ccraker@tricityherald.com

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