Just prior to their 1st North Coast Section (NCS) tournament match, 3 starting players on the varsity girls’ volleyball team were hit with a mysterious illness. As a result, the trio was unable to compete. The food-poisoning-like symptoms began approximately 1 hour before game time on October 29.
What afflicted juniors Morgan Coolbaugh, Erin Thomas, and Kate Dendinger may have been contracted from a salad served at the team dinner preceding the competition.
Coach Dave Chen has seen a lot in his coaching career, but never 3 starters missing the same game due to food poisoning.
Junior Brianna Lee recalled the chaos before the game and said that it felt as though within “5 minutes everyone was out.”
“I can’t even explain it,” Lee said. “After 1 person threw up, I think the craziness of it just made everyone start to feel a little weird and nervous.”
Facing their 1st playoff opponent without the core of his lineup, Chen was quick to remind his remaining players that they still had the experience and talent to win. And win they did, in 3 sets, over the visiting Heritage team.
Dendinger reported feeling sick leading up to the game, but her theory is that “the caesar salad got to [them].”
“It probably wasn’t refrigerated from the power outage or something. Weird, weird night for us,” said Dendinger.
2 of the sick players were sent home in an effort to preserve the health of the rest of the squad. “We all used half our gallon of hand sanitizer. Just to be safe,” junior Molly Mitchell said.
While the team prevailed, according to Lee, it has things to improve upon before its next match, particularly the service return.
Meanwhile, some players are likely to be more careful about what they eat prior to the next tournament game on November 7. “I think we were poisoned,” said Mitchell. “Hopefully everyone will be okay for Saturday[‘s game].”