Setters do it better with Alyssa Islas

Senior Alyssa Islas talks about her volleyball journey, goals for the future, and experiences with her teams.

Her dad taunts her on the volleyball court, “We’re going to beat you guys, we’re not going to let you win.”

This taunting is all done lovingly, in the case of senior Varsity Captain Alyssa Islas on senior night, as she leads the Wolves to victory against her dad’s team, the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences (VAAS) Vipers. 

This was her dad’s attempt of throwing her off her game so he could secure the win. During the game, his teasing could be heard by all, although it proved unsuccessful. Islas didn’t let him get into her head, instead scoring more points for the Wolves in the midst of his mind games. 

“It just inspired me and the girls to pick up our energy for the game,” Islas said. 

Islas has been playing volleyball since 4th grade, where her dad was her coach and remained so until she began playing for Van Nuys. When Islas first showed interest in sports, her dad urged her to play softball, since it was the sport he knew the best. However, as a younger sibling, Islas idolized her older sister, who played volleyball.

“I wanted to be just like her,” Islas said. “I think my older sister is the coolest person to ever walk the planet earth.” 

However, Islas is straying from her sister’s path in her decision to play volleyball in college. Currently, she’s in communications with the coaches at Walla Walla University in Washington. 

“It’s a school I’m looking at for academics, but to play volleyball there would be pretty cool too,” she said. 

In case going D3 for college doesn’t work out for her, Islas can always fall back onto her dad’s clubs: Starlings Granada Hills and The Takeover VBC, and help him with coaching. She’s had many years of experience with coaching and managing teams. Islas took the role as team captain for Van Nuys during all four years of high school, is team captain for her club team, and is the team manager for the Varsity boy’s volleyball team at Van Nuys. 

Islas also stepped up as coach for the Van Nuys girls volleyball team during her junior year, as mentioned in her feature article in the LA Times. This article highlighted her efforts to keep the team together throughout their season when their coach stepped down.

“I don’t know how that happened, but it was still really cool,” Islas said. “It was a good experience.”

Although her volleyball experience seems like it’s always positive, Islas has experienced some downfalls. 

While balancing 3 AP classes, a social life, college applications, club volleyball, and school volleyball, it’s safe to say that she is under extreme amounts of pressure. 

“But you learn to manage,” she said. 

Islas is a perfectionist, and constantly works as hard as she can to help her teams perform to the best of their ability. At some point, she’s going to get discouraged if they aren’t listening to her, or are causing the team to lose. 

“This program is literally my child, it is my baby,” Islas added. “It’s something that I’ve cared about since 2019, so I just want people to know that just because you care about something and you’re willing to give 110% for something, doesn’t mean you’re always trying to be bossy, you’re just trying to see what is best for the future of the program.”

Islas has always been in a leadership position, and this reflects on her involvement on the court as well. 

“As a setter, it’s a big leadership role, you have to analyze the other team’s defense as well as yours and make sure you’re setting up your hitters in order to be successful and to make sure that they’re able to hit open spots,” Islas said. “For example, Adrienne always says, ‘Set me, so I can hit line.’ Not only do I have to see the other team, I have to make sure my teammates see as well.”

As well as being captain for her club team, Starlings Granada Hills, Islas is also their setter, which is the most important player on the court. Due to her power on the court, she can always visualize the unity of the team as a whole, and sees the vast difference between school and club volleyball. 

“For me personally, club is a bit less time consuming since the girls actually pay to be there, so they care a little bit more,” Islas said. “It’s also way more competitive than it is for high school.” However, her club and school volleyball journeys will soon be coming to an end, as she’s currently in the application process for colleges. Her dream school is UC Berkeley.