September 11, 2020 – By NJP

The Bogota Buccaneers have a long standing tradition of high school volleyball success and 2019 was no different with a 30-5 record and another sectional state championship added to the trophy case. Most people think of their 2019 dominance exemplified by senior Nylene Mateo racking up 526 kills, Junior Kiara Polanco posting 264 kills on the attack, or Senior Julianne Corneil anchoring the defense and digging her way to many team victories. But the hidden jewel may have been the emergence of a freshman middle who was a wall on the block and added another dimension to the attack. Her name is Ashanna Caviness.

Ashanna was a consistent presence in the middle for Bogota, and her numbers showed it. Her 72 blocks were 10th in the state (2nd in her class of 2023) and coupled with 74 kills, she was a formidable weapon in the Bogota arsenal. Considering she was a freshman on a team that consistently is a top 10 girls squad in New Jersey, it is a major accomplishment.

This year may have a very different look for Ashanna. With Nylene Mateo headed to Georgian Court University, it is likely that Ashanna will move to Outside Hitter as a sophomore. This will open the door for much more responsibility on the team and on the back row.

Bogota has earned the #3 pre-season ranking in NJ. We project them as the top team in the NJIC and have the potential to be the number 1 team in NJ. The have a balanced team of returning varsity players and will be joined by another wave of talented Buccaneers who like Ashanna, will for the future success for the upcoming years.

Here is our interview with Ms. Caviness…

Ashanna and Gyanna Hernandez

Tell us a bit about yourself, Ashanna?

Hello! My name is Ashanna Caviness. Currently, I am a sophomore at Bogota Jr/Sr High School. My graduation year is 2023, which is exciting as it’s only two years away! My family is big and joyous. Along with my four siblings, I am one of the youngest. I am also a fraternal twin. Other than my siblings and my parents, I have a Pomeranian named Rusty. We have had him since he was two, and now he’s almost eleven. Some of my hobbies include listening to music, bicycling, and reading.

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

The summer before my seventh grade year, I began to play volleyball at a clinic in Bogota. Prior to that, I had no clue about any of the clinics. It
wasn’t until I had a friend who told me about them. She told me about how
exciting they were and knew about my interest in joining more activities and sports. When I finally tried out for the middle school volleyball team, I realized that I had a drive for it. I thrived as soon as I stepped onto the court. Since then, my passion grew stronger for volleyball.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?

I am 5’10, middle blocker or outside hitter. I played for SideOut Sports
volleyball club team. My favorite position to play would be outside. I played
middle most of my volleyball career but this year I will be playing outside. I
had to quickly adjust but love playing outside because at Bogota the outsides are our go-to hitters.

How will your Bogota high school team do in the upcoming season? Do you have a lot of returning players? What will be the key to success?

In my opinion, my team is extremely resilient. Due to COVID-19, I’m sure
a lot of teams across the country are struggling with readjusting to the new
normal. However, I believe that my team will overcome these challenges. Our returning players remain the same. We have incoming freshmen and a junior as an addition to the team as well. The key to our success will definitely conclude to being committed to practice and unity within our team.

Tell us about your Buccaneers teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?

I feel like anybody that steps on the court can stand out if they want by preserving and if they can make a difference on the court.

NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones are you looking at?)

As of right now, I do plan on playing volleyball in college. Volleyball has
shaped my life seamlessly and it has become more than just a hobby to me. It has taught me to have good partnership, has formed friendships for me, and became my second home. Since I am a rising sophomore, I have not been looking at many colleges. However, my team does travel to Penn State often for camps and to watch their games. This inspires me to someday have the same opportunities and success.

Tell us about your club experience at SideOut Sports?

The coaches and players at SideOut Sports made me feel welcome. I am a shy person so it was good for me to get out of my comfort zone and meet a lot of new people. I Learned a lot of new things at SideOut Sports. For instance, I learned how to hit a shoot, a 31, pass better etc…

You have made a huge impact on your Bogota High School team as a freshman middle with 72 blocks and 74 kills in your first year as well as state sectional championship. What are your personal goals for 2021?

My freshman year, I truly focused on being better and bringing success to
my team. I also aimed to have good grades and be active within my high school. 2020 overall has been a roller coaster for me, especially because of the unforeseen circumstances. For 2021, some of my personal goals include
continuing to maintain my good grades, readjust my attention to improving my hitting, and altogether my volleyball abilities.

Describe your state playoff run last year as a freshman… what was the experience like?
State playoff was an amazing experience especially the semi-finals. The
semifinal game was the best game out of the whole state playoffs. The energy on the court was incredible which made it fun to play . The defense were determined to get good passes so the setter could give the outsides good sets. The crowd made the experience even more exciting because they were loud .

What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year? Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)

During the off-season, I play club volleyball to keep me in shape and get
me better for next season. Club season ended short this year because we had to quarantine due to COVID-19. The whole Bogota volleyball team would meet up on zoom and exercise together 3 days a week. This lasted for about 2 months. No, I don’t play others sports but I would like to try track if we ever go back to school.

Who is your support group?

A huge part of my support group is my Mom. Without my Mom, I
wouldn’t be able to continue my volleyball career. After many years of
continuously pestering her about games and fundraisers, she continues to be strong in her support for me. Along with my mom, my siblings and my friends also make up the remaining portion of my system of support.

Ashanna and family… with Mom AnneMarie Browne, sisters Tijani and Kelly Browne, and brothers Deshawn and Ashanti Caviness

How are you and your family dealing with current world situation with
COVID-19? How will the delay in the Fall high school season schedule effect you or your team?

My family and I are doing well , we try to stay safe by social
distancing, wearing masks, and washing our hands often. I am still focusing on volleyball and on what I could do to get myself better for next season. This affects my team because we wouldn’t have a lot of court time to prepare ourselves for the season.

Have you won any awards such as All County or All State or others?

Yes, honorable mention All- League.

What is your favorite inspirational video or music that you like to watch or listen to before games?

I have a whole Music playlist just for games that consists of music that would hype me up and get me ready for games.

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