Talented Nakahara getting more reps with Deerfield

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NORTHBROOK — Early in the first game of a match against Glenbrook North Monday, Molly Nakahara rose high above the net and put down two kills that showcased the kind of potential Deerfield girls volleyball coach Eugene Chung said the junior holds.

Later in the same game, Nakahara, a 5-foot-10 outside, was blocked on a kill attempt and couldn’t defend a Glenbrook North attack that resulted in the game-winning point.

“She can be good. Really good,” Chung said. “She has moments of brilliance, but we all are looking for her to play at a consistently high level. She continues to get better.”

Nakahara finished Monday’s 25-17, 25-16 loss to the Spartans with a match-best six kills. She entered Tuesday leading the Warriors (11-10, 1-3 CSL North) with more than 100 kills. She also had more than 50 errors.

“She has nice athleticism and has a great attitude toward the game,” Chung said. “She just needs more reps. She still is learning.”

A volleyball player since seventh grade, Nakahara said she decided to fully dedicate herself to the sport during high school. She plays in the Junior Olympic division for Sky High Volleyball, a club team based in Crystal Lake. As a sophomore, she established herself as one of the league’s best players with her selection to the all-CSL team.

“I’ve always been drawn to sports, whether it’s running or swimming,” Nakahara said. “That’s something that drives me in volleyball, but volleyball takes time to be really good at it.”

Chung said he’s been working with Nakahara to improve her swing mechanics, specifically bringing her elbow higher. Nakahara said she’s becoming a smarter hitter, too.

“Last year, I would swing too hard, not snap my wrist and balls would go out,” she said. “This year, I am more consistent, and I see the court better. I have a better view of the game.”

Nakahara also said she wants to be a better defender, which is part of the reason she sits out some of the team’s rotations.

“I am not where I want to be with my passing, but it’s getting better,” she said. “I am always pushing to be better.”

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