When Westwood senior setter Karina Robinson started playing volleyball in elementary school, she tried to teach her younger sister, Vanessa, about the sport.
Karina would pass the volleyball back and forth with Vanessa in the family’s backyard, and then she would quiz her sister about on-court strategies. And to make sure her lessons were being understood, Karina would create — and grade — worksheets for Vanessa.
“I hated answering those questions,” recalled Vanessa, who is now a sophomore at Westwood High.
No longer her sister’s pupil, Vanessa Robinson is now Karina’s teammate with the Lady Warriors. Together the Robinsons, who play the same position, have led Westwood close to the top of the District 16-5A standings.
Westwood is 4-1 in district play with that lone blemish being a five-set loss to state-ranked Round Rock on Sept. 27. Westwood, which graduated six players off of last year’s regional quarterfinalist, has qualified for the Class 5A playoffs in five of the past six seasons.
“I’d say we’re pretty confident,” Karina Robinson said. “As long we don’t get complacent with where we are. If we keep trying to correct everything we can and get better every time we play, I think we should definitely be able to make playoffs.”
This season, the Robinson sisters have been called on to run a Westwood offense that features seniors Sarah Afflerbaugh and Hailey Stout among its attack options. The Robinsons are consistently substituted for each other in the Lady Warriors’ 6-2 offense, which is used to maintain a strong front row.
Karina, a 5-foot-4-inch, third-year letterman, is averaging 5.5 assists per game this season. Vanessa, who is an inch taller than her sister, averages 5.2 assists per game.
“They definitely run the show,” said Westwood coach Kate Zora, whose team closes the opening half of district play on Friday, when the Warriors face McNeil. “Karina is the quiet, silent leader who manages the court. Vanessa is actually the fiery one. It’s a nice contrast to have setters with two different personalities on the court.”
Karina said she has enjoyed the opportunity to watch her sister play this season, and she has relished the chance to see how her home-school tutoring sessions have paid off. Vanessa has enjoyed finding familiar footsteps to guide her.
And the sisters insist their shared position hasn’t created a sibling rivalry.
“Sometimes in the newspaper, she’ll have more assists than me or I’ll have more assists,” Karina Robinson said. “It’s definitely a good motivator, but it doesn’t really create tension between us.”
“I don’t feel any conflict between us because we support each other so much,” Vanessa added.
As one of Westwood’s three captains, Karina Robinson admits that she may be tougher on her sister than some of her teammates, but Vanessa has taken any criticism in stride.
In fact, any arguments between the sisters likely started closer to their closets than in proximity to the volleyball court.
“I think the biggest thing that makes us mad at each other is if we borrow each other’s clothes without asking,” Karina said. “That’s pretty common.”
Except for the handful of playoff matches that Vanessa suited up for in 2012, the Robinsons had never been teammates before this school year. Now, the sisters are making the most of their one season in the same uniform.
“The timing of it couldn’t have been any better,” Karina said.