Though she was in elementary school at the time, Sydney Berenyi hasn’t forgotten the fervor that once surrounded Silverado’s girls volleyball team.
She saw it firsthand with her sister, Penina, who played with both of her current coaches.
“I remember coming when I was a little girl and they were like my role models,” Berenyi said of (head coach) Samantha Richard and (assistant) Taylor Richard. “I didn’t really know what was going on, but whenever I heard their names, everyone would go crazy.”
Berenyi, now a 5-foot-11-inch sophomore at Silverado, is eager to make the Skyhawks a state power again — the kind that appeared in five consecutive state tournaments from 2005 to 2009 and won titles in 2007 and 2009.
“We’re a young team, but I think if we keep working on ball control and have the mentality that, ‘No ball touches the floor,’ we can be a really good team,” said Berenyi, the Northeast League Most Valuable Player last year.
Silverado, the defending Northeast League champion, opens its season against Elsinore (Calif.) at 3 p.m. Friday in the Las Vegas Invitational.
The Skyhawks appear to be one of the Sunrise Region’s top teams.
“Sydney is a great all-around player,” said Samantha Richard, a 2006 graduate of Silverado and former UNLV volleyball player. “She’s a leader, regardless of her age. Last year, she came in and led as a freshman — obviously stats-wise and on the court — but even in school. She was one of the best student-athletes that we had.”
As a freshman, Berenyi led Silverado to a 13-4 record, including 8-0 in league, as the school won its first league title since 2009.
The team’s postseason, however, was anything but climactic.
“We kind of let down and didn’t really take the game as serious as we should have,” Berenyi said of the team’s five-set loss to Rancho in the first round. “We were looking past the first round. We were like, ‘When we get to the second round, we’ll play hard against Foothill or whoever.’ We kind of overlooked Rancho.”
Berenyi said that loss would be used as motivation this season.
The Skyhawks return three starters, including Berenyi, junior outside hitter Mackenzie Carter (an All-Northeast League first-team selection) and senior libero Emma Wenthe. They also inherit freshman setter Tehani Faitau, who has experience playing with Berenyi.
“Our freshman setter is going to be a very good asset to the team,” Samantha Richard said. “Those two play club together, so there’s obviously going to be that dynamic that a lot of people don’t have. It’s like playing with my sister. I know what she’s going to do before she even does it. You just have that connection. It’s going to be very nice to have that dynamic duo.”
When told of Berenyi’s plans to lead Silverado back to prominence, the second-year coach smiled in remembrance.
“It honestly gives me the chills a little bit,” Samantha Richard said. “Because to hear someone that has the passion I have for the game is really cool. You don’t find it often.
“She has grown to be such a great player, and I think that she’s going to do big things. She just has a lot of aspirations. Even when there’s a bad practice, it’s like, ‘Coach, what happened? What can I do? How can I help my teammates?’ She’s always trying to better herself and her game.”
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.