When the Campolindo High girls volleyball team needed a big kill, even the opposing team knew the Cougars usually turned to outside hitter Annie Shurtz.
She still couldn't be stopped. Especially when it mattered most.
In the Cougars' biggest games this year, Shurtz played her best and was a major factor why the team was able to win North Coast Section and Northern California Division III titles and compete for a state championship. Campolindo finished the season with a 30-5 record.
In the NCS title match, she had 22 kills. In the NorCal semifinals and finals, she combined for 50 kills. In the state championship, she had 18.
Because of her dominance all season, particularly down the stretch, Shurtz has been selected as the Bay Area News Group's East Bay Player of the Year.
"Annie was truly that leader who led by example, making everyone around her better," Campolindo assistant coach Dave Chen said. "I think people tend to forget that this was only her first year playing the outside hitter position. Suddenly being forced to be the focal point of the team and carrying the workload for the majority of the season, she had to deal with a lot of physical and mental ups-and-downs."
Shurtz finished with 500 kills and was the Most Valuable Player of the Diablo Foothill Athletic League.
"This season has been the greatest one in my entire life," Shurtz said. "I'm not big on talking about myself, because it's important to have an all around great team and that is what we had this year."
Shurtz wasn't worried about her own legacy. Instead, she wanted to add to the recent storied history of Campolindo volleyball.
"This year I had a goal that I wanted to leave something behind in Campo history, something to be remembered by or to inspire someone," Shurtz said. "As our team was competing in NCS games and succeeding, people would tell me how proud they were and how exciting the performance out there in our gym was. That was amazing."
Campolindo coach John Vuong worked with Shurtz in club volleyball season, and alreadywas aware of her talent and leadership qualities.
"I've known Annie since she was 13," Vuong said. "I've come to appreciate her many qualities, as I have watched her grow as a player and a person."