Wednesday, September 23, 2015

St. Francis Honors Player, Beats Davis

by Steven Shaff
St. Francis Ass't. A.D.

The St. Francis volleyball team was facing Davis Tuesday night in a volleyball match. But the hidden opponent was blood borne cancer.

Hosting a Blood Cancer Awareness Night in support of Troubadour junior Natalie Woodruff, who is fighting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the Troubies played one of the best matches of the season with a 25-17, 25-17, 25-16 Delta League win.

“The kids adore Natalie and they miss her,” said Head Coach Alynn Wright. “They really wanted to play well for her tonight. I think they did.”

Wood ruff was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in May and began receiving treatment in July. She is sitting out the season to fight the disease. She was joined by her parents and grandparents in a pregame prayer on the court.

“It was so much fun,” said Natalie after the game. “I felt back at SF and part of the community. I have always felt that but tonight made it feel really real.”

She is showing the same fight the Troubies showed against the Blue Devils Tuesday night.
“I am tired but other than that I doing really well,” said Woodruff. “I just got done with my fourth and hopefully final round of treatment,” said Woodruff. “I get my MRI and PET scan next week. If those are clear, I am done.”

Junior Bailey Avery said the team was inspired by Natalie’s appearance in the gym.

“I have been going to school with Natalie since the fourth grade,” said Avery. “When she was giving her speech, it made everyone really emotional and I started tearing up. It made every one play with more heart because it was for someone we know.”

St. Francis (7-8) got off to a good start, winning the first set. They continued without a letdown to sweep the match in three sets.

“We started off very well, the best start we have had all season,” said Wright. “We had a lot of best performances tonight by a number of kids on the team. It is starting to come together and I am excited about it.”

Both schools wore variations of lime green, the official color of the fight against blood cancer, from hair ribbons to shoe laces to special occasion jerseys for the St. Francis varsity team. Each varsity jersey had the name Woodruff across on the back.

“It feels awesome especially knowing we won for Natalie,” said Avery.

St. Francis swept the night with both the freshmen and junior varsity teams posting 2-0 wins.

Staff from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Greater Sacramento Area Chapter were present at the game, recognizing seniors Abby Fitzgerald, Sophie Huang and Mia Bonini for their fundraising efforts this past summer. Fitzgerald was named the Student of the Year by the organization.
St. Francis volleyball team prior to game vs. Davis Tuesday

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