August 10, 2020 – By Josh Wilets
Randolph High School had an up-and-down season a year ago, and with their hitters returning, the Rams are hoping to get a shot at postseason play and make some noise.
One of those returning hitters is Gabrielle (Gabi) Trinker. She sat down with me and gave some interesting insight on last season, and what Randolph is looking to do going forward.
Gabi started playing volleyball before entering RHS, “I initially played volleyball when I was in middle school doing a Summer camp to see what the sport was like and again during a Winter clinic, it was then that I realized I loved the sport. With few opportunities in town to play, I continued to focus on the other sports I had been playing,” she continued, “Before entering high school I knew I wanted to play competitively and spent the summer before my freshman year attending private camps and clinics. I was nervous about tryouts and was surprised that I made the JV team as a Freshman. It was a great first season and I fell in love with the competitiveness and fast paced game. I just knew it was the sport for me.”
Gabi may not be the tallest of hitters on the floor, but she plays big, which may be her most impressive attribute. She stands 5’5” but can soar with a 34-inch vertical. She plays outside hitter for Xtreme Volleyball Academy in Ledgewood, NJ.
“I absolutely love playing at Xtreme—I have had only positive experiences,” she said, “The difference between Xtreme and other clubs I have been to is that Xtreme is very hands on and focused on you and not a group. They take time to break down every little detail, every little mistake, every little movement to make you the strongest player that you can be on the court. Not to mention, how kind all players and coaches are, they make you feel very comfortable when learning and playing. They truly want to see you excel at the sport. As for my club coach and also director of Xtreme, Cindy Rivera, she’s one of my favorite people on this planet. She is driven and wants to see all her players succeed and win. I can proudly say she has made me not only the player I am today, but the person I always wanted to be on and off the court.”
Randolph will be in for an interesting season, after losing Adrienne deFuria (OH), Elena Rossetti (S), Megan Pinyan (L/DS) and Juliet Castro (L). Trinker said, “My high school team will definitely be a real thrill ride this year as we lost a lot of our starting rotation players. We do have most of our Varsity team returning, thankfully. I also do believe that there will be a lot of talent from the girls coming from the JV team that will ultimately help fill the positions we had lost. Keys for a successful season this year for us will have to be learning to be an aggressive team on out of system points.”
The Randolph High School girls volleyball team has some key returning players, in addition to some up-and-coming players—or as the volleyball team likes to say, “On The Rise”. “Based on last season I think that Ana Aksentijevic and Natalie Riback will be our key players in terms of putting up a strong block and offense,” Gabi said, “I believe that players such as Sasha Saltus, Allison Connuck, and Amanda Pizzi will be standout players, all coming from the JV team—all have something different to offer on the court. Sasha can quite literally play any position, Allison has the hands our team is missing, and Amanda offers consistent and intelligent placement of the ball in the front row.”
Gabi Trinker is looking to continue playing the sport at the collegiate level, following her Senior year at Randolph High School. “My ultimate goal is to play volleyball at the college level. I have spoken to a number of college coaches and have a few top options,” she noted.
Playing in the NJAC, Randolph plays a long list of great teams. “The toughest competitor that we faced was West Morris Central. They were the toughest because those girls passed every ball that came their way. As a team I would say we definitely lacked a strong offense and relied on smart placement and serve. West Morris was a scrappy, aggressive team that could read most balls and didn’t give a single point up without a fight; they always ended up being the stronger team in the end,” Gabi said.
Trinker is the leading returner for Randolph in digs (112) and service aces (14). Prior to the start of last season, a rough shoulder injury slowed Gabi down and thus, she feels she has so much more to bring to the table. “This year, my goal is to really help my team offensively. Unfortunately, I had some setbacks last season, but I have used this year as rehab and I look better than I ever have and I can’t wait to contribute,” she said.
Gabi is a big-time fan of Molly Haggerty, an outside hitter from the Wisconsin Badgers. She said, “Molly Haggerty is my favorite college volleyball player. She is my favorite player because she shares an inspirational story, coming back from such a harsh injury. To me that shows how dedicated she is and she’s someone I really look up to.”
In the offseason, Trinker does all she can to stay in shape, and loves to work out and improve her all-around strength. “I like to lift weights to prepare for the upcoming season. When lifting I like to focus on different muscle groups, as I like to make sure each group is worked as much as all the others. At my club I help train younger athletes as well as playing at clinics to improve my overall mechanics. I also like to run track in the springtime to help increase my speed and vertical for volleyball,” Gabi said.
Gabi pointed out one person who was extremely influential, that would be her coach at Xtreme Volleyball Academy, Cindy Rivera. Trinker said, “When I first met Cindy I was still learning the game; it was my second year playing. She saw the potential and the natural athleticism I had and offered me a spot on her team. She really pushed me to my limits and with rep after rep after rep I finally figured out, with her help the player I wanted to be on the court. Even now, she still pushes me to be the very best I can be as I continue to develop.”
Trinker and her family are doing all they can to stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My family and I are dealing with the current world situation by taking all safety precautions. We chose to continue everyday life with a positive mindset, and to not dwell on what we can’t do. COVID-19 will delay the Fall season by pushing practices and tryouts to take place in September, while high school games will begin in October. This will affect our team because we are mostly seniors and a lot of the girls would seriously be heartbroken if we didn’t have a season,” Gabi said.
When the 2020 volleyball season does get going, Gabi Trinker looks to be an integral part of the Randolph High School girl’s volleyball team and they look to make a run at the playoffs this season.