Candy bar-lovin’ Southeastern senior eclipses 1,000 career digs, kills

The tradition started during Leslie Flores’ freshman volleyball season at Southeastern High School.

“I have to have a Snickers bar,” Flores said, enthusiastically describing her pre-game routine. “Freshman year I needed a Snickers bar before the game and I asked coach, ‘Hey, I don’t have a dollar on me and I need a Snickers bar.’ From there she made sure I had a Snickers bar before ever game.”

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You’re not yourself when you’re hungry, the commercial goes. And there was one match her freshman season when Flores didn’t get her Snickers bar.

“I played okay,” Flores said.

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In addition to her favorite candy bar, Flores’ craving for volleyball has also been satisfied with stellar play. The Trojans’ senior recently surpassed 1,000 career kills and digs in consecutive matches. She’s the all-time and single-season record holder in both categories.

The milestone dig came Sept. 10 against Cedarville. The kill came a night later at Northeastern.

Flores has 1,009 kills and 1,026 digs through Southeastern’s first 11 matches. Flores isn’t sure where her volleyball talent comes from – neither of her parents played sports – but she knows when it started.

A friend’s mom was coaching a National Trail Parks and Recreation District team during Flores’ sixth-grade year. They asked Flores to join them.

“Honestly, I wasn’t even interested in playing volleyball,” she said. “They asked me to play. I said sure. After that I was in love with it.”

Holder has helped Flores develop her passion for the game. When Southeastern coach Katie Holder took over the program in 2015 during Flores’ freshman season she was Southeastern’s fourth volleyball coach in as many years. The two have bonded during the past four seasons, and especially this season with Flores and fellow senior Reed Pitstick being the first group to play four seasons with Holder.

When Flores slammed down her 1,000th kill she looked over and shared a smile with Holder.

“I looked at her and she had the ball. It looked like she was going to cry,” Flores said. “It was so nice because my freshman year was her first year here. We’ve been together the last four years.”

Flores, a rare three-year captain, also holds school records for digs in a season (504 last season) and kills in a season (354 in 2016). She currently has 141 digs and 154 kills.

The young Trojans’ team sits a 6-6 overall and 3-2 in the Ohio Heritage Conference. Challenging Greeneview (12-1 overall, 8-1) for a run at the OHC title would be unexpected. But that hasn’t prevented Flores and Co. from preparing for postseason success.

Flores’ role on the court is that of a coach, too. Holden relies on Flores to get less experienced teammates in the right spots and encourage them after mistakes. It’s the same thing her volleyball role models did for Flores when she was an underclassman.

“My freshman year I played with Libby Hudson and Kalie Entler,” Flores said. “(Kalie) was a phenomenal volleyball player. I was like, ‘Man, I want to be like her. She is so good.’ Her and Libby both. They were so amazing. … It feels good other people view me like that and want to be like me. It makes me feel good.”

Holder experienced that same feeling back in 2015 seeing Flores play for the first time.

“When I stepped into the volleyball program everybody kept telling me about Leslie,” Holder said. “I remember the first open gym I walked into my jaw probably hit the floor. I wasn’t expecting that kind of talent out of a freshman. … I knew there was something special about her. I knew she would be there talent wise, but I didn’t know we would grow so close together and have such a close coach-player bond.”

Well, as long as Holder brings that Snickers bar.

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