Since this is yet another – and actually the only other Team Sweet Valley book – it must naturally come from Elizabeth's point of view. Prior to the start of the book, Maria convinced her to try out for the volleyball team. Even though she loved playing with friends, she didn't think she was good enough to be on a team. She not only made it but can't stop boasting about how much she's improved since joining. Also on the team are Cammi, Maria, Mandy, Ellen, and Kimberly. Yeah, that totally makes sense.
Their coach is Sandra. Though she works full-time as the coach for Sweet Valley University, she took maternity leave early and got a job coaching SVMS. Even though she's seven months pregnant, Liz says that doesn't let it slow her down. After one practice, she takes them out for ice cream. Her doctor told her she could have one indulgence day per week, which in her eyes means that she can have two massive banana splits.
Kimberly reveals that Sandra was actually on the Olympic volleyball team, but she just laughs it off because it really wasn't that big of a deal. In fact, she had way more fun competing in the California Games. Not only did her team win, but she became super popular in school. She even tells them about how she dated the cutest guy and still had time to win a bunch of middle school journalism prizes. She makes a comment about being proud of how hard some players worked, which causes Liz to modestly thank her before realizing she was talking to Mandy. That makes her vow to do the best damn job possible and become the hardest working person on the team.
Janet decides that the volleyball team winning will make the Unicorn Club look way better and pretty much goes off on Kimberly about how she must win because she's the captain. Kimberly decides to bring up Elizabeth as a scapegoat in case they lose so she has someone to blame. Janet makes it clear that she doesn't like Liz but then does a 180 and tells Kimberly that she just needs to work harder to make sure they win.
This leads to all the girls fighting with each other and showing off because they want Sandra to think that they're the best player. Kimberly keeps making snide comments about other players, especially Liz and Cammi. Liz comes up with an idea to throw Sandra a baby shower and have all the players chip in on a gift together, but Mandy came up with the idea first. That causes tension between the two of them because Liz can't help feeling like Mandy stole her idea.
Their first game goes so great that they win the meet and decimate the other team. Winston later tells Liz that it was hard to watch because they won by so much that it was more of a slaughter. Sandra gives them all praise, telling Liz that she blocked like a pro. Liz is less enthused when Sandra tells Ellen that she really hustled and put a lot of hard work into the game. Liz pouts but then decides that it's okay because Ellen probably did hustle a little more than usual.
Sandra gives them all a big lecture about what they did wrong in the game, which leads to Maria wondering if they did anything right. Liz then wonders if Sandra thinks they won the game or if the other team lost it. I will give you one guess. She then warns them that the next game against Big Mesa won't be nearly as easy.
It turns out that she was dead right because Big Mesa kicks their ass. They fight so much that Big Mesa pretty much just rolls all over them. Sandra is clearly disappointed and feels the same way during their next practice. The girls all start fighting, and Sandra keeps trying to calm them down but then passes out. They fight over what to do and who to call, and Ellen, Cammi, and Mandy all run to call their moms. Mandy's mom isn't home, Cammi doesn't have any change, and Ellen apparently can't remember her own freaking phone number. Kimberly finally brings up getting a lifeguard, since they're on the freaking beach, and Liz feels pretty bad when the paramedics arrive and one says seconds are valuable in cases like this because she realizes how many seconds they wasted.
Though she wants Jessica to go with her to the hospital, Jessica has gymnastics practice and can't make it. Liz goes by herself and learns that Sandra had her baby, Christopher, early and can't have any visitors. She runs into Mandy in the hospital and talks about her worries. Mandy points out that doctors can do miracles, which is a flashback to her having cancer, which leads to them exchanging knowing glances with each other.
After chatting with Mr. Bowman about all her problems, he tells her that she already has teamwork experience. She's all confused until he points out that she's part of a newspaper team. Given that she just takes over all the time, I don't think that's quite the same. She then tells the girls that they need to work together to win for both Sandra and Christopher. Kimberly is less than happy to let Liz take over until the other girls bully her into it.
It doesn't help that they can't get anyone else to coach the team. The swim coach agrees to show up to games and do all the official work but is way too busy with his own team to show up for practices. Their game against El Carro is pretty awful until Liz institutes a three hit rule where they hit the ball three times every time before sending it over the net. This lasts until the other team picks up on it and pretty much spanks them.
No worries though because they tied for a spot in the play-offs. All they need to do now is beat Big Mesa again. Luckily for them, it's raining so hard that day that the team never shows up. The official even gives them a few extra minutes before calling the game in Sweet Valley's favor. That puts them into the real play-offs.
Jessica and Lila watch from the massive crowd on hand, with Lila constantly talking about how she could play better and Jessica rolling her eyes at the idea of Lila do anything that might cause her to break a nail. Lila explains that she's only there because Janet demanded they all come out and cheer the Unicorns on, which leads to Jessica pointing out that Janet is currently flirting with Big Mesa guys. By the end of the game, Lila is with those guys too.
SV wins the first game, but Big Mesa wins the second. Everyone gets super discouraged until they see Sandra making her way through the crowd. She winds up sitting by the sidelines like she did before and cheering them on as they win the last game and earn a spot in the California Games. Not only does Sandra tell them how happy and proud she is, but she explains that Christopher miraculously healed and that despite being born 2+ months early is ready to come home and will be there at the games.
Mandy does throw a baby shower but throws it at the Wakefield house. Sandra starts opening her gifts and finds out that they all got her the same thing: rattles with handles shaped like animals. She cries because it's proof that they all learned how to work together, but it's really because they all went to the same over priced store and could only afford the same thing.
*Sandra comments on Liz ordering mango ice cream because she was born and bred in Kansas and never even heard of mangoes when she was their age. On literally the next page, she tells them about winning the California Games. While it's possible that she moved to California later in middle school, it feels more like a mistake.
*In no way, shape, or form is going to a middle school competition more exciting than going to the freaking Olympics. She explains that her team were the underdogs in middle school, which is what made it more exciting because in the Olympics, everyone was as good as her team.
*She also tells the girls that she made the Olympic team despite not being very good and actually being worse than other women who tried out, just because she worked harder then them. Um, no, that's not how that works. Olympians are the best of the best. You don't get to that point just because you're a hard worker.
*This book once again makes no sense. There are apparently NO middle school volleyball teams already in existence. They all form teams and start playing, just to compete against each other in the hopes of making it to the California Games. That explains why the Sweet Valley team only had like three weeks of practice before their first game. Why even bother then? It's described in the first book as the Games highlighting the top players and the top teams. That shouldn't include kids who randomly decided they wanted to play a sport at the last minute.
*Lila says that Unicorns are never losers even when they lose when talking about how Liz and her friends are losers after losing a game. It made me want to punch her.
*The swim teach coach literally shows up to a game and spends the whole time looking over papers when they play. When they call him out on it, he says that he really needs to get the roster set for the next match. Would it really take him that freaking long?
*Janet literally tells Kimberly that once they win the California Games, it's okay if the reporters want to come and talk to her first about the Unicorns. I know she's self-absorbed, but is Janet really that delusional?
*Jessica excitedly jumps up and screams game when she thinks they won, but Big Mesa hits the ball back and keeps the game going. She pouts and thinks about how it's not fair that she wants SV to win so bad and how the other team just won't give up. Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the only book where that doesn't happen.
*So, Liz goes to the over priced baby store, which has like white carpets everywhere and loads of stuff inside locked wood cases. She picks out an outfit that costs over $40 and then looks at stuffed animals, the cheapest of which is like $42. She gets the rattle because it's only $3, which is why all the other girls do the same thing. Is there seriously like no Target, Walmart, or Babies R Us stores in Sweet Valley? There is no way everyone in town can afford to outfit their nurseries in that place!
*In case you didn't notice, there is no resolution to this book. They get the chance to go to the California Games but don't.
*I'm a little confused by this book because it apparently takes place at the same time as the first book. That book had a few mentions of Liz playing volleyball but no references to her winning, but in this book, Jessica hasn't even competed in a gymnastics meet yet.