Girls Varsity Volleyball started the season with their premiere game stopped in the middle of the second set, as the referee experienced a health issue. The athletics and volleyball staff called emergency medical services and Head Coach Darren Emery commented, “We practice [our emergency protocols] every year with the hopes that we’ll never have to use them. It’s nice to know that when they do have to swing into action, everybody is on point and knows what they’re doing.”
Coming back from the pandemic, the team has lost many of its 2019-20 members, with only five returning players and nine seniors in the group of 14. Emery explained that, having lost a year of development for the players, the coaching staff did a lot more teaching than they used to, but the team is very hardworking and improving together fast. He noted, “Having seniors in practice is great. We have a lot of leadership on this team—even some of our juniors are great leaders.”
Leah Nieuwenhuizen ’25, the only freshman on the team, shared, “It’s really nice [that when] I was having trouble blocking, April gave me some pointers.” With a nice blocking height, Leah helps the team’s defense at the net as the front setter in a 5-1 system, where Cece de Oliveira Castro ’22, a returning setter from the 2019-20 season, substitutes in when the position is in the back row.
The Varsity squad’s official first game ended in a 0-3 loss to Winsor School on September 14, 2021. Camille Hick ’22, a middle and co-captain with Isabella Ginsburg ’23 and April Shi ’22, described, “Winsor had really strong serves which meant they have really strong serve receives.”
“Those are very intertwined: the better we can serve in practice, the more it will be helping our serve-receive practice,” Emery explained. The players and coaches unanimously found the serve and serve-receive battle to be in immediate need of improvement and worked specifically on defensive plays the two practices following their defeat.
Madison McCaslin ’23, who plays as the libero, expressed, “I feel a lot of pressure to do well for my team because I think it’s up to the libero, a lot of times, to be able to pass the serves, so it’s really important that you’re able to make those passes because the play can’t even get started if the ball doesn’t get up in the air.”
Moving up from the Junior Varsity team, Madison found a greater turnout and higher energy level during games to be more pressing. In terms of practices, she noted, “Darren is really specific in our goals, so when we’re trying to build a certain skill, he’ll really implement drills that will help us build that […] whereas Jeff [Head Coach of JV] does more scrimmage-type drills instead.”
As one of the co-captains, outside hitter Isabella hopes to improve communications within the team as the new group heads into the season: “We want to make sure as many people are participating in psychs as we can. We want to do captains’ practices over the weekend for anyone to come.” The leaders have been encouraging team bonding frequently during practices and after practices, especially on the bus rides, during which Leah loves playing music in the back of the bus.
The Varsity Volleyball team will be revenging their second loss in the season against Portsmouth Abbey in the Student Health and Athletic Center (SHAC) at 1:30 p.m. on October 9. Come with Emery’s favorite ace cheer, “1-2-3-4, let me hear you hit the floor! Ace!”