By Waverly Brannigan
After a year of uncertainty, the volleyball team has finally been able to hit the court. Volleyball is typically a fall sport, so their true fall season consisted of intramural gameplay and practices. Now, thanks to a change in Covid-19 rules and regulations, the Fall II season has been given a green light. This means that volleyball can play interscholastic games both on and off the island, yet still must abide by safety protocols to keep all teams safe. The ability to play competitive volleyball has been a welcoming change for the team, and they have strong goals set for their season.
Since the team did play intramural in the fall, they were already exposed to the rules and regulations in terms of both Covid-19 and volleyball. Mask-wearing is a norm and occurs regularly at all times when players are at practice and games. Senior Captain Sarah Andersen makes it clear that the team has done very well with the rule changes. She says, “as far as rules and regulations go, the team and I have adapted to these changes in an effortless manner.” This helps practices and games run much more smoothly, as the team is used to Covid-19 protocols. Andersen also highlights that the differences between intramural and interscholastic play are apparent, describing that “the differences in these two settings are playing with other teams and a higher demand for everyone’s job on and off the court, from communicating to keeping our teammates safe.” She feels that it is very important for the team to work even harder than ever both on and off the court because that is how they will best succeed. Handling new protocols, rules, and now playing other teams requires total cooperation to remain safe, and the volleyball team has been working very hard to ensure the safety of everyone around them.
Similar to most student-athletes, the volleyball team is very grateful and excited for the opportunity to be playing Fall II. Besides being thankful for being able to have a season, volleyball is using this experience to build almost a whole new team. Last year, the team lost core seniors including Malika Phillip, Tessa Dougan, and Anita Dougan, among many more. Due to so many senior team members graduating, the team also has the opportunity to shape a new group, and the future of the program this year. Andersen has been on the team for her whole high school career, and explains, “In previous years, I have played this sport with people all in the same grade, but they all graduated last year. This season, getting to play with new yet familiar people is a fun learning experience.” With a newer group of players, the volleyball team is focusing on honing their skills and growing closer as a team. They recognize that in order to see success, they need to find drive and determination within themselves and bond with their teammates, setting them up for a great season and many more to come.
So far, the team has played three games, which they have unfortunately lost all of. This hasn’t discouraged them in the slightest; however, it has motivated them to continue working hard and improving their game. Andersen believes that practicing has made a huge difference, as being able to meet as a full team and work together have strengthened their abilities as a whole.
Although their current record is 0-3, Andersen recognizes that “with each game, we have made adjustments to better ourselves.” With practice and immersion in competitive play, the team will be able to gain momentum as they get used to playing against other teams again. It had been over a year since the volleyball team had last played competitively, and one of the only ways to regain that competitive mindset and a higher level of play is through the games themselves. Andersen agrees, feeling that “the beginning of the season thus far has been a learning experience, mainly to find our individual and collective strengths.” Again, playing in games is one of the best ways for a team to grow. In games, teammates must rely on each other and work together, focusing on skills learned in practice. When teamwork and individual skills are combined during games, the volleyball team will be able to greatly improve.
As the volleyball team tackles the challenges of a season during a pandemic, they are working harder than ever before and setting strong goals for themselves. Andersen describes such goals, stating that “the team’s goal for this season is to play to the best of our abilities fluently and repeatedly. With this goal comes a better understanding of the team and an open door to winning.” Even amongst continued uncertainty, the volleyball team has a positive, determined attitude that is allowing them to carry through the challenges they face. They are dominated by their love for the sport and their strong team spirit, which motivates them to focus on what they can control: playing volleyball and working towards a successful season.