Immaculate Conception junior likes to set up teammates
Watching Anna Jayo play volleyball, you get the sense the roof could cave in and she would keep her eye on the ball.
Jayo’s love of the game is leading Immaculate Conception Academy to its best season in school history (9-11, 2-7 West Bay Athletic League).
As a sophomore last season, the setter and right outside hitter was named team MVP and honorable mention All-WBAL. She leads this year’s team with 173 kills, 104 more than any of her teammates.
"This is where she’s comfortable," Spartans coach Dave Mehrwein said. "She’s the queen."
In ICA’s second matchup this season with Mercy of Burlingame, Jayo had 15 kills, 28 assists and six aces — three with Mercy at game point.
Pressure does not seem to affect Jayo.
She has resisted the trend among high school athletes to specialize, maintaining other interests, including basketball and the violin. Still, playing volleyball in college remains her main goal.
Jayo keeps her game in shape in the offseason by playing for the San Francisco Juniors Volleyball Club. The club’s supportive environment has taught her to "shake off" mistakes.
It is a lesson Jayo tries to pass on.
"She’s the encourager," ICA teammate Lauren Lacayo said.
In addition to a great pair of setting hands, Jayo has uncanny court awareness.
In ICA’s recent match against Harker, Jayo’s observations prompted her team to move its defense in.
"That absolutely helped," Mehrwein said. "We actually did better the second and third game."
It is common for Jayo to surprise teams by dumping the ball over with a shortset or by hitting the second ball deep into a corner.
Jayo’s instincts stem from a lifetime involvement with volleyball. She began playing in third grade, having already spent years watching her mother play. This season will mark Jayo’s fifth with the S.F. Juniors.
With aspirations to play in college, attending a larger, more athletically competitive school such as St. Ignatius or Sacred Heart Cathedral would be the natural choice.
But Jayo, who has a documented auditory learning difference, wanted more teacher attention and more playing time than the larger schools could offer. ICA’s small size of 250 students has been integral to Jayo’s success.
"I really like the academics here," she said. "They’re at the rate I need them at. They give you opportunities to learn at your speed."
Jayo’s mother attributes her daughter’s success in volleyball to her experiences adapting in the classroom.
"From a young age, she had to learn strategies," Patty Jayo said. "She brings them naturally to the court."