AU Volleyball in Week 4: Sheilla Castro’s grand finale

Sheilla Castro elevates for a spike during a loss to Team Drews on Saturday. (Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Week 4 of the Athletes Unlimited volleyball season is here, and with it comes the end of an era.

Sheilla Castro says goodbye

Sheilla Castro will play in the final game of her career on Saturday, which comes nearly six years after she first announced her retirement from the Brazilian national team.

Castro joined the AU roster for the league’s second season with the goal of improving upon her performance from last year, and she quickly delivered on that promise. For the first time in her AU career, Castro earned a captain’s spot in Week 3 and didn’t look back.

On Friday, she posted a career-high 23 kills, adding 11 digs and three blocks against Team Lowe in what was the highest scoring match in league history with 164 combined points. The third set of that match also set a league record for points, with Team Castro coming out on top 39-37 for a combined 76 points.

With 2,142 points through the end of Week 3, Castro will most certainly pass her points total from last year (2,350) in the final three games of her career. The two-time Olympic gold medalist with Brazil is currently in third place on the AU leaderboard, 147 points behind Bethania De La Cruz in second.

While the reason for Castro’s early departure is unknown, her impact on the leaderboard will still be felt at the end of the season.

Battle for the best

Dani Drews retook the spot atop the leaderboard last week with 2,374 points, out-gaining De La Cruz by 451 points. She’ll need to keep up the pace to stave off De La Cruz, the title favorite who sits just 85 points behind Drews with 2,289 total.

Natalia Valentin-Anderson also surged back into the top four and a captain’s spot with 2,017 points. A total of 357 points separates the four captains heading into the second-to-last week.

Among the top 10, Morgan Hentz was the biggest climber after gaining 851 points in Week 3. She’s now in sixth place and will play for Team Drews this week.

Cassidy Lichtman also entered the top 10 for the first time last week, moving up four spots from 11th.

The leaderboard is competitive entering the final two weeks of AU competition. De La Cruz looks to avenge her second-place finish from last season, while Drews aims to cap what has already been a stellar rookie campaign with a championship trophy.

Emma Hruby is an associate editor at Just Women’s Sports.