August 6, 2021 – By NJP
What an impressive freshman campaign Bryn Bautista accomplished for Washington Township this Spring. It is so uncommon for a first-year player to come into high school and make such a big impact. For WT, they not only had Bryn, who led the Minutemaids in kills, but they had freshman Nina Cleary at setter, who put up 166 assists in her stand-out session as well. What a great sign to have a pair of young, talented players who can drive the team’s success for the next three years.
Township finished 7-4 for the Spring season and was eventually gunned down by eventual Section winner Southern who finished near the top of the final state rankings. WT was 5-2 in the Olympic and they garner the #30 spot in NJP’s preseason ranking which puts them in the top 10% of high school volleyball team in NJ.
The Olympic is expected to be solid and has two teams ranked even higher than Washington Township in Cherry Hill East and Paul VI. We projected very high-level volleyball to come out of the Olympic conference, especially with Cherokee, Shawnee, Lenape and Camden Catholic all with teams in the preseason top 60. Check out the full preseason ranking at this link… https://njpowerranking.com/2021/08/01/fall-2021-preseason-nj-high-school-girls-volleyball-rankings/
The Olympic conference sported two of the top 6 freshman in kills during the spring session. Bryn from WT, and Taylor Bartrum from Cherokee. Taylor has now moved out of the area, but Bryn will be in a position to have another dominant season as a sophomore.
You can tell when watching Bryn that she has been playing from a very young age. She has great ball control skills and a confidence in her hits and passing. At 5’6″, she gets a surprisingly strong amount of power on her swing and even as a freshman showed a high level of VBIQ, maturity, and leadership. Her club volleyball experience at Jersey Juniors has allowed her some truly precious experiences to gain tournament time against some of the best teams in the country. The sky is the limit for this young star as she navigates the next three high school years and a collegiate career at the next level.
Here is our interview with Ms. Bautista…
Hi Bryn? Thanks for joining the NJP player interview club. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am about to enter my sophomore year at Washington Township High School and am part of the 2024 graduating class. I live in Sewell, New Jersey with my parents and older brother who will be a sophomore at Rowan University. My parents met through playing volleyball in college at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York and are still playing to this day.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I grew up with a volleyball in my hands, constantly peppering with my parents who found their love for the sport in college. I also played soccer until sixth grade when I eventually had to decide between the two sports given that the schedules had become too conflicting. I absolutely fell in love with the sport and play year-round, participating in beach and grass tournaments as well as playing indoor in the fall.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am a 5’6 outside hitter for my high school and enjoy the thrill of putting a ball away. I also play libero for my club team at Cherry Hill and love the adrenaline of digging a hard driven hit. I love being able to play all the way around the court while contributing kills as well as defending and controlling the backrow as a defensive specialist. In all honesty, I am passionate about both positions and the diverse aspects they bring.
Tell us about your Minutemaid teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?
I think our team has grown tremendously as a whole since last season. I expect a lot of positive outcomes this upcoming fall starting with Nina Cleary, who stepped into the setting position having never set before let alone run a 5-1 as a freshman on varsity. I watched her confidence rise through the pressure of being placed in such a significant role and thus I believe she will be a substantial part in leading the team this year. I feel that we also have a strong defensive background within the team especially with our firecracker libero, Addie Sondberg who keeps the backrow in control. As well as I have high hopes and predict that Bella Delude (MH) and Olivia Dowling (RH) will do big things in the offensive line this year.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state, especially for your class year. Do you hope to play in college? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
I am definitely looking to play in college and plan to study within the medical field. I find the anatomy of the human body intriguing and feel as if my career path is headed in that direction whether it be nursing or nurse practitioner.
Tell us about your club experience at CHVBC (Jersey Juniors)
I started playing competitively at Cherry Hill Volleyball Club/Jersey Juniors at eight years old on the twelves team. When I was ten years old, my team and I won a bid to nationals and traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a memorable moment considering that we were the first team to attend nationals within the club. At twelve years old, I was the libero on the thirteens team where my team earned another bid to nationals and competed in Detroit, Michigan. Flash forward to age fourteen, my team (15s) were supposed to go to Dallas, Texas for nationals after winning the bid for being number one in the New Jersey region, but were unable to due to Covid-19. I am currently fifteen and this summer my team (16s) qualified for nationals in Las Vegas, Nevada which was an incredible experience! I am so grateful for the opportunities Cherry Hill has provided to improve my volleyball skills in which I would not be the player I am today without the coaches who have pushed me to be the best I can possibly be as well as my teammates!
What an outstanding first year at varsity you had this Spring as a freshman. You posted 68 kills, leading the team in that category as a first-year player. Describe the dynamic of being a freshman leader.
Without a doubt, I would be unable to perform to the best of my abilities without the support of my teammates embracing me as a freshman. When I first joined the team, everyone welcomed me with open arms which made me feel comfortable and wanted. This enabled me to achieve such success on the court and for that I am very thankful. Even though my first year playing high school volleyball was shortened given Covid-19 circumstances, it was a thrilling experience that will most definitely shape my next 3 years at Washington Township!
Both you and Nina Cleary, as freshman, really seemed to connect in both your first years at varsity. What do you think you can accomplish in both your careers at WT?
Nina Cleary was the first person I met when I moved to New Jersey from Delaware in 2013. We grew up playing soccer together and my family eventually introduced the sport to her where she made the transition from soccer and began focusing on volleyball. I feel as if our setter hitter connection along with our friendship that we have maintained on and off the court for the last 8 years is something that can allow us to grow together as volleyball players and hopefully accomplish big things in upcoming years at Township.
Who motivates you?
My mother, Robin Bautista, is my motivation in everything I do. Not only did she introduce me to the game of volleyball that I am so passionate about, but she is also my mentor. My parents gave me the foundation of my volleyball skills dating back to when I was four years old. Till this day, she assists in coaching my team and I at Cherry Hill Volleyball Club/Jersey Juniors and was even apart of taking my team and I to our first nationals in Minneapolis! Aside from volleyball, she has taught me how to be independent and how to set goals for myself that allowed me to become a strong individual. She has always been there to pick up the pieces and constantly reminds me that she is my #1 fan. I am grateful that she encourages me to try new things and pushes me to be the best person I can possibly be.
Do you think athletics make you a better student or worker?
I feel as if athletics most definitely makes you a better student and worker. Personally, I believe sports motivate students to maintain good grades and work well with others while also having fun. Being involved with athletics affects students in a healthier way both physically and mentally, in terms of stress relief and getting exercise. There are also character traits that you get from participating in sports like discipline, organization, and time management which are helpful in being a good student as well. Hence, athletes pick up on these aspects that enable them to succeed on the field/court, in the classroom, and life in general.