Libero Sadie Estrada sets tone for Titans

  • By
  • | 1:06 p.m. October 9, 2014
Libero Sadie Estrada sets tone for Titans
Libero Sadie Estrada sets tone for Titans
  • Sports
  • Share


ORLANDO — When watching Olympia libero Sadie Estrada, it’s hard not to notice the reckless abandon with which the senior for the Titans plays. 

On any given night, spectators at an Olympia match might see Estrada dive across the hardwood or improbably pull out a dig on a would-be kill from one of the area’s top outside hitters.

It’s all in a day’s work for Estrada, a pleasant young lady off the court who transforms into a fierce competitor when she is on it.

“I’ve been competitive ever since I was little — when I’m on the court, it’s a go-big-or-go-home kind of thing,” Estrada said. “I’ll be yelling at some of the girls — I’ll be like, ‘Come on, do your job, or move out of my way, and I’ll do it for you.’”

That fierce spirit is something Mitch Sadowsky, head coach for Olympia, said has gone a long way for the Titans (7-10) during a season in which they have had to retool and reinvent themselves. They lost several key players to graduation from a 2013 team that made the regional finals in the state tournament.

“I love (the way Estrada plays),” Sadowsky said. “We want her doing it, we need her doing it. Too often, people are scared to make that play.”

“At the (Orlando Volleyball Academy) tournament, she came from left-back in position five to make a play across the court in position two — which you don’t see many people able to do,” he said. “It takes a lot of experience; it takes a lot of athleticism and speed to do that. It also sends a message to the rest of our team that that’s the type of effort we need to put forth every single play.”

Estrada is a captain for the Titans, although this is the first season she has started at the position. Scout Farrow was a standout libero for Olympia the past few seasons, meaning Estrada had to wait her turn. That patience allowed the senior to improve her game in a less conventional way — learning through observation.

“This year, it’s like a whole new me,” Estrada said. “I learned a lot from watching our libero last year. … It’s made me a lot better.”

Estrada said she loves her team and hates to lose, but the way she plays the game goes even beyond that. When she is on the floor, Estrada is quite literally playing for her future within the game. After financial difficulties prevented her family from being able to pay for her to play club volleyball the past two years, the talented libero has found herself at a significant disadvantage in recruiting circles, because the club circuit largely has become where college coaches watch prospects.

“My two most important years — the years that you get recruited — I missed out,” Estrada said. “That’s what motivates me every day. You’ve got to show people what you’ve got.”

That motivation has paid dividends. Estrada has improved plenty since her days as a freshman and even earlier. Sadowsky, who has known Estrada since she played in middle school, marvels at her improvement.

“It’s immeasurable,” Sadowsky said. “She’s just steadily grown as a player. She’s so quick, and she’s seen so much volleyball.”

Competing in a district that has emerged as one of the toughest in Central Florida this year, the play of seniors such as Estrada and outside hitter Martina Shamley will be crucial as the Titans battle West Orange and Apopka in this month’s Class 5A District 3 tournament.

Although their record is not reflective of the success Olympia has had in the past few years, Sadowsky certainly doesn’t expect opponents to take his team lightly in the weeks to come.

“I don’t think we’re under the radar at all — I think we’re smack dab in the middle of everybody’s radar,” Sadowsky said. “Olympia may not be front-of-mind in terms of the top volleyball programs — but we’ve been to the regional final in three out of four years. I don’t think there are very many teams that would be able to say that they aren’t on everybody’s radar.”

As for Estrada, her hopes of finding a place to play college volleyball in-state will hinge heavily on her play over the next few weeks and at a showcase at Orlando Volleyball Academy in December. It’s plenty of pressure, but Estrada only exudes confidence.

“Heck yeah,” she said with a smile. “I got it.”

Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].


Latest News