Homecoming takes on a whole new meaning for 2020 Christopher High graduate Maya Tabron, who will be playing in front of her family and friends for the first time since her senior year of high school.
The starting sophomore outside hitter is one of the best players on a University of Colorado women’s volleyball team that plays at Cal on Friday and at Stanford on Sunday. In a call with the Dispatch on Tuesday, Tabron admitted coming home is rife with emotion.
“It’ll definitely be a little nerve-wracking at first, but it’s going to be a fun time,” Tabron said. “It’ll be nice for all my family and friends to be able to see me play.”
College and pro athletes who come home are always inundated with ticket requests, adding to their stress. However, Tabron said that’s a good problem to have and accommodating everyone hasn’t been overwhelming. Most of her friends will be at Stanford since Palo Alto is a lot closer to Gilroy than Berkeley.
But her immediate family members and their closest friends will also make the trek to Cal on Friday. In Tabron, they’ll see a player who has taken her game to another level at Colorado. In the last decade, there have only been a handful of players from the South Santa Clara and San Benito County region to go from high school straight to a Division I volleyball program.
Tabron is one of them, a dynamic athlete who at 6-feet tall is on the shorter side for an offensive attacker at the Division I level. In high school, Tabron could go up for an attack and hit the ball as hard as she could and most times it would go down for a point. She knew that approach wouldn’t fly at the Division I level, and adjusted accordingly.
“The major adjustment going to college is you really never have an open net,” she said. “So it’s really about making better decisions—when to tip or if there are two blockers up hitting angle. The coaches and my older teammates have been very helpful in that transition.”
Tabron is one of only four Colorado players who has started all 15 matches so far and ranks second on the team in kills (157), points (179.5) and points per set (3.39). Tabron has also been solid defensively, posting a receive percentage of .968, tops among those in the regular rotation for a Buffaloes team that entered this week’s play at 11-4 overall and 2-4 in the Pacific-12 Conference.
Tabron had spectacular performances against Utah on Sept. 24 and against Oregon State on Oct. 3. Against Utah, she totaled 13 kills with just one hitting error and finished with a .500 percentage. Tabron posted similar numbers in the Oregon State match, finishing with 13 kills and three errors for a .435 percentage (anything above .400 is considered outstanding).
In the 2020-2021 Covid season, Tabron played in 16 of the team’s 20 matches, starting two. The experience helped her immensely in her development and getting acclimated to the college game.
“It was definitely a good year to get my footing because nothing can really prepare you for the intensity of playing in the Pac-12,” she said. “With Covid last year, it was a very stressful year in general so this year I’m definitely more comfortable with my play and my teammates for sure. Having a year to play helped me adjust to the coaches better, follow their directions and make the plays they want you to make.”
Tabron’s athleticism, vertical jump and work ethic have contributed to her transition to big-time college volleyball. Life as a college athlete tends to be jam packed, as Tabron found out immediately in her freshman year.
“I knew things were going to be intense, but it was non-stop in how hard you go in practice, then (weight) lifting, then watching film, then classes. It took a little while to adjust, but it’s come along nicely.”
Tabron plans on spending most of Saturday with her family and friends before gearing up for the Stanford match at Maples Pavilion. It’s a place Tabron is familiar with, having gone there countless times throughout her teenage and pre-teenage years. This time, instead of being in the stands rooting for Stanford, Tabron will be on the court on the other side of the net looking to crush the Cardinal.
“It’s kind of crazy that I grew up watching Stanford and now I’ll be playing against them,” she said.