MESA, Arizona – The New York Yankees had Derek Jeter. The Detroit Red Wings had Steve Yzerman. Athletes Unlimited Volleyball has Bethania De La Cruz.
When you look back at the three-year history of Athletes Unlimited Volleyball, it has been very rare that De La Cruz’s name is not listed among the four weekly captains. In fact, there have only been three days where De La Cruz was not a captain since the league’s first match took place on February 27, 2021.
However, all good things must come to an end. De La Cruz’s streak of 952 days of being an Athletes Unlimited Volleyball captain came to an end on Monday night when she finished in sixth place on the Week One leaderboard after collecting 761 points.
The 2022 Athletes Unlimited Volleyball champion will already go into the record books as one of the greatest athletes in any of the organization’s four sports. However, her performance as a captain over 10 consecutive weeks is something that should be celebrated.
Sure, she won the title last year in convincing fashion after a dominating final two weeks of the campaign, which included the highest single-week leaderboard point total in league history to clinch the crown. But, there are plenty of other accolades and numbers to highlight her status as one of the best to ever sit in the captain’s seat.
Here are just a few of the highlights from De La Cruz’s streak as an Athletes Unlimited captain:
- Fifty-five different players had the privilege of being selected to a De La Cruz-led team, including eight players who spent three or more weeks on her squad … Libero Nomaris Vélez Agosto was picked to be on Team De La Cruz eight times in 10 weeks, while outside hitter Erin Fairs was a member of Team De La Cruz five times.
- De La Cruz faced 14 different captains during her 10-week streak and earned at least one victory against 11 of the 14 opposing team leaders … She secured three wins against three captains – outside hitters Jordan Larson and Dani Drews and setter Natalia Valentin-Anderson.
- Who was the captain De La Cruz faced the most as a captain? It was opposite Karsta Lowe. De La Cruz and Lowe squared off five times as captains with Lowe earning three victories.
- De La Cruz-led teams authored a 19-11 record during the 10-week streak, including four weeks with perfect 3-0 marks … She also opened her tenure as a captain with back-to-back three-win weeks, joining Odicci Alexander (softball), Cat Osterman (softball), and Sam Apuzzo (lacrosse) as the only captains in any Athletes Unlimited sport to accomplish the feat.
- De La Cruz’s 30 matches as a team captain are the most by a team leader in any sport … She joins Osterman (24), Apuzzo (24), lacrosse goalkeeper Taylor Moreno (21), basketball guard Odyssey Sims (21), and softball catcher Sahvanna Jaquish (21) as the only Athletes Unlimited players to serve as a captain for 20 or more events.
- De La Cruz won 21 of her 22 Match MVP awards during her time as a captain … Only Apuzzo has won more MVP awards among all players in any Athletes Unlimited sport.
- De La Cruz-led teams won 51-of-90 sets during her reign as a captain, including an impressive 26 set victories last season when she was crowned as the league’s champion.
- De La Cruz accumulated 300 or more leaderboard points in a match 17 times over her 30 contests as a captain, including a league-record 477 points against Team Valentin-Anderson on April 15, 2022.
To put it in simple terms, De La Cruz’s time as a captain can be described as historic and legendary. While she may not be serving as a captain entering Week Two, she returns to the court on Friday evening with the same goal — repeat as the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball Champion.
Meet the 2023 Volleyball Week 2 Teams
© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Sarah Smith
Watch: The Hot Seat featuring Natalia Valentin-Anderson
© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
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