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Taryn Nelson gets her shot to lead Bell-Jeff volleyball

After playing second fiddle for three years, the senior has stepped into the limelight this season and is steering the Guards to another successful campaign.

October 20, 2012|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
  • Taryn Nelson has stepped into a leadership role with the Bellarmine-Jefferson girls' volleyball team this season.
Taryn Nelson has stepped into a leadership role with the… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Taryn Nelson waited her turn for three years with the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ volleyball team.

Although the senior outside hitter has been an impact player with the Guards since her freshman season, Nelson was relegated to second fiddle behind standout Jocelyn Cervantes, and rightfully so.

Cervantes is the most decorated athlete in Bell-Jeff volleyball history, earning three All-CIF Southern Section Division IV-A awards, two Santa Fe League Player-of-the-Year honors and four All-Area accolades. Cervantes — who is at Cal State Stanislaus — graduated last spring after setting a slew of Bell-Jeff school records.

Having to often take a back seat to Cervantes didn’t leave Nelson feeling bitter.

“I never looked at myself as the second-best player on the team,” Nelson said. “I just wanted to go out and contribute to the team in any way that I could.”

With the departure of Cervantes, the Guards were looking for someone to step up and lead, not only with words, but by example on the court. Nelson was more than willing to step into that role, and it is under her leadership that the Guards are enjoying another wildly successful season.

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With a four-game win against St. Genevieve Thursday evening, Bell-Jeff (10-6, 6-0 in league) increased its consecutive league winning streak to 50, a string that dates back to 2006. With two more league contests remaining, the Guards are pushing toward their seventh straight league championship. In addition, Bell-Jeff is ranked No. 2 in Division IV-A.

But the success hasn’t come without strife. The Guards lost impact senior middle blocker Mariah Bankhead last month after she aggravated a nagging knee injury. The squad has also had to compete without a key play for Tuesday league games this season because of the athlete’s commitment to softball.

However, through it all, Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said Nelson has pulled the team together.

“This year she has really stepped up to be a leader on this team,” said Segura, who has coached the girls’ team since 2004. “She has taken this team on her back and really most of the time we go as she goes as far as success is concerned. She has learned to be a leader and the other girls seem to respond to her.”

The 5-foot-7 Nelson said she relishes the opportunity to be a team captain and help steer the Guards in the right direction.

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