There was a time when Olivia Hayes failed at volleyball.
Hayes tried out for the girls team at the St. Denis Elementary School in Manasquan — only to be cut.
“I’m not too sure why I got cut,” said Hayes, now starring at Wall High School. “It was a long time ago. I was playing softball at the same time I was playing volleyball. There was another girl who had more experience in volleyball than I had. They chose her instead of me and I eventually grew to understand that.
“When you are a seventh grader, getting cut from any team just kills you. I was lucky to have softball as a fallback.”
Hayes wound up trying out for the Crimson Knights’ freshman team. She made the team and is now in her third varsity season. One person who is glad Hayes did not give up on volleyball is Wall coach Jared Musolf, who has known the senior outside hitter for four years.
“She rises to the occasion in the big games,” he said. “She’s motivated and dedicated. She has a passion for the sport. She loves it when there is an audience and it’s loud.”
Hayes said she enjoys the sport’s team aspect.
“I love how you have to have that great pass, great serve and great set to win a point,” she said. “I love how you need to have the entire team to win a game.”
Hayes and senior setter Alyssa Stansfield are in their second straight seasons as Wall captains, chosen by Musolf and assistant coaches Dan Leonard and Cathy Gavaghan.
“Olivia is a team leader, someone who lives and breathes volleyball,” Musolf said. “She plays it year round. Her passion for the sport is what rubs off on the other girls. She knows the game well enough so that she does not have to scream and yell. She knows how it is supposed to be played and she teaches the other girls.”
Hayes, a National Honor Society member, enjoys her leadership role.
“I like having the girls look up to me,” she said. “I love helping the girls learn something new in practice. I love teaching the girls. I really enjoy it when they ask me for their help.”