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Sisters first, rivals second
Larsen sisters to face-off on opposite sides of volleyball net
Larsen sisters
Cami and Victoria Larsen are sisters and rivals, but only on the volleyball court when Cami and her Pitman Pride face-off against Victoria and her Turlock Bulldogs. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Cami and Victoria Larsen are sisters, so an occasional face-off over borrowed clothing or a sibling disagreement isn’t a farfetched sight to see for parents Keith and Shaun. Still, conflict and competition between the two is rare; their distinctive personalities tend to complement each other rather than clash and their shared interests quash the stereotypical tension that is often expected between teenaged sisters.

But things have changed in 2012 because for the first time a shared love has divided the two, if only slightly. No, the culprit isn’t a boy —it’s volleyball, a sport both girls developed a passion for at an early age.

Sophomore Victoria was moved up this year, joining senior Cami at the varsity level and creating on court competition between the two for the first time. The two aren’t vying for playing time on the same team though; they’re facing off on opposite sides of the net with Cami on the side of Pitman High and Victoria on the side of rival Turlock High.

“Cami and I do fight sometimes but we never fight about volleyball,” Victoria said. “There’s more competition between us when we’re on the same team because we’re fighting for spots on the court.”

“The only difficulty is that if she does something good I’m not able to tell her good job and if I know what she’s doing wrong I’m not able to help her out,” Cami added.

Ironically, attending separate high schools, which created this unique sibling matchup, has proved to be an equalizer in the sisters’ relationship. With separate schools come separate lives and different experiences; a buffer zone against drama that keeps things fresh and stable.

“It’s benefited us because we’re our own people at school,” Cami said. “I’m not Victoria’s sister at Pitman and she isn’t Cami’s sister at Turlock.”

Much like at home, where a sibling rivalry isn’t much of an issue, the two play it cool on the court, focusing on their respective teams and saving criticism or praise for a later time. Even though there’s certainly a rivalry between the Pride and Bulldogs it isn’t a heated one, between the sisters or the volleyball squads in general. Like Cami and Victoria, a majority of the players from both sides grew up together, often playing on the same teams and going to the same tournaments.

“There’s no big rivalry because they’re different, on and off the court,” their father Keith said. “It’s interesting, you think you bring them up the same way but their approach ends up being so different.”

The differences between Cami and Victoria as players have also aided in preventing trash talk or extreme competition. Whereas Cami’s role is in the back row where she specializes in digs and passes for the benefit of the team, Victoria can be found all over the court, hitting balls from the outside and always looking to score points.

“She’s energetic and has an attitude on the court,” Cami said of her sister. “She’s also an all around good player; her athleticism really helps her.”

“Cami’s always smiling on the court, so she always looks happy,” Victoria said. “I’d say her greatest strength is passing.”

Although the passion for the game was forged in the same flame for the two sisters, their plans for the future and the sport diverge. The younger Victoria is keen on continuing her time on the court long after high school, hoping to play at the collegiate level, while the matured Cami is focused more on her academics as a way to succeed rather than athletics.

“I definitely want to see if I can play college volleyball,” Victoria said. “It’s always been my sport and I’ve always wanted to play in college.”

“I just like that it keeps me in shape and keeps me busy,” Cami said of volleyball. “I’ll probably continue to play intramural in college.”

For now the future is on hold, however. Thursday marks the second matchup between Turlock and Pitman this season, a rare occasion when both parents can watch the girls on the same court and former friends and teammates can be reunited.

“The first time around, we were definitely more anxious than the girls,” Keith joked. “Shaun cheers for everyone but I’m a little more reserved. I try to be Switzerland.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing if the competition increases and I hope the crowd is big too,” Cami said.

“I’ve seen her team play so I know what to expect,” Victoria said. “I have a lot of friends at Pitman so I’m looking forward to all my friends from both schools coming to see me play,”

Thursday’s matchup will be held at Turlock High and is set to begin at 6 p.m.