San Pedro’s Two Newest Volleyball Skyscrapers: Allison Kittell & Tracy Folchi
San Pedro High girls volleyball hitters Tracy Folchi (left) and Allison Kittell have provided a newly-formed Twin Tower tag team for the surging Pirates.
Going into the 2014 season, the San Pedro High girls volleyball team had a bevy of returning players with no particular hope of competing for a Marine League championship, but they had no idea what they were going to get.
Enter 6’1” senior outside hitter Allison Kittell and 5’11” junior middle blocker Tracy Folchi.
One of the dubbed ‘Twin Towers’ came from the Midwest, and the other came from another part of the South Bay area to completely change the fortunes of the Pirates and first-year coach Chris Ceballos. The results have been nothing more than magnificent for a program that had gone through some growing pains in the past four seasons.
When they’re on the court together, it’s poetry in motion.
“(Allison and Tracy) added depth to our offense and defense,” San Pedro senior outside hitter Paige Peterson says. “It’s really nice to have some height on our team.”
Kittell came from South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Ind., where she starred for three years before she and her family moved to San Pedro, and from there, she faced some immediate adjustments.
“It was really hard having to leave people and a very close community that I had been a part of for six years,” Kittell says. “But I fell in love with Southern California and San Pedro the moment we moved here, and I’ve made a lot of really fast friends here. I’m not going to lie and say it was an easy transition, because it wasn’t.”
Folchi also had to make some adjustments coming over to San Pedro from a talent-rich program at North Torrance High.
“As soon as she stepped onto the San Pedro campus her responsibilities on the volleyball court increased significantly from her role at North High,” Ceballos said. “She played alongside some juggernauts there, so she went from role player to key contributor instantly. She has responded well by being extra aggressive and I think her aggressive play sets the tone for her teammates.”
Folchi adds: “My biggest adjustment was my footwork and my passing. I’ve been trying really hard to get those two things down correctly.”
San Pedro’s two newest skyscrapers also had to adjust to each other.
“Having moved across the country I was terrified of being labeled the new girl,” Kittell says. “But when I met Tracy, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. She was going to be the new girl too, and since we play the same position, we became very fast friends.”
San Pedro (13-11 overall, 8-4 in the Marine League) made some tremendous strides, and the play of Kittell and Folchi has been a welcome addition. This duo imposed their will on San Pedro’s biggest adversary, Narbonne of Harbor City, on October 13 in a pivotal league match at San Pedro High as the Pirates were out to end five years of frustration against the Gauchos.
Both Kittell and Folchi were dominant in all three sets, and Folchi’s balanced effort of 11 kills, four aces and one emphatic block was one of the major reasons why the Pirates were able to overcome Narbonne in a surprisingly easy 25-16, 25-12, 25-19 victory that sent a major shockwave throughout the entire league, and a positive boost of Pirate pride to the entire school.
“I was certainly very excited, but not surprised,” says Kittell. “I know firsthand of how good of a team we are and how hard we wanted this. I’ve known all along we were capable of playing like we did and I’m ecstatic that we won this match the way we did.”
Ceballos had high praise for both his towers.
“Both of them had their best match of the season,” says Ceballos. “They dominated the net… and it was a testament to the hard work they put in preparing for that match. They made it easier for their teammates and therefore their teammates returned the favor by giving them the ball to hit.”
Folchi herself was nowhere near intimidated by the big-match exposure since she was used to it at North Torrance.
“The support level at San Pedro is about the same and very loud but the only difference is that I knew more people at North,” Folchi says. “I looked forward to playing our rival there which was South (Torrance High).”
Most star players don’t work well together in sports, nor do many get along. That is certainly not the case with these two. “I really love playing with Allison,” Folchi says. “She really helps me to push myself harder. She’s such a great teammate and friend.”
Kittell says of Folchi: “I can’t explain how much I love having Tracy as a teammate. Since the first day of tryouts, we’ve gotten extremely close on and off the court. I couldn’t ask for a better Twin Tower.”