Learn to Dig It
By Chi Zhang
After a season of teamwork, determination, and prowess, the Varsity Girls Volleyball team is ready for the playoffs.
This year’s V-squad consists of nine girls. They are led by coach Amy Carney and co-captains Jennie Frishtick, the one and only senior on the team, and Sophie Bartels, a junior. As co-captains, Jennie’s and Sophie’s responsibilities include motivating the team, answering questions, planning for events, and setting good morals.
I had the opportunity to attend a few of the games. Although the audience was smaller than that at a game of football, the atmosphere of a volleyball game was just as in- tense and electrifying. One thing I noticed was that the crowd cheered for every point. When the girls lost a point, the team and the crowd would shout words of encourage- ment. When they won a point, the whole gym would erupt in cheers and claps.
Between the cheers and the praises, I noticed the effort the team put into each point.
“One of our team’s goals is to play our game on our side of the court, no matter what the other team throws at us,” said Elisabeth Pillsbury, a sophomore.
Girls would dive, scrap, and fight for each point. No one just gave up. If the ball seemed to be flying away, they would run after it, trying to keep the play alive and win the point. Like Elisabeth said, no matter what the other team throws at the Hanover girls, they will keep playing their best. “The team’s goal is to give 100% of ourselves every game,” added Sophie. After seeing them play, I have no doubt in my mind of how true her words are.
Many people do not understand the game of volleyball. The object of the game may be simple—to win—but getting there requires much more than just hitting the ball back.
“Volleyball can be a confusing game: there’s a lot going on mentally, as well as physically,” said Jennie. Between the spikes, sets, and hits, there are also rotation, co- ordination, and communication.
“It appears that volleyball is not physically trying at all, but in actuality it is such a hard sport,” explained Katrina Menard, a junior.
One key factor is communication. On the court, the girls constantly have to talk to each other— or rather, scream—about who’s getting the ball, how many blockers there are, what is happening on the court, etc. If that’s not enough, they also have to worry about positioning.
“You have to keep track of where you are in the rotation, and you rotate after every side-out (which is when you win a point when the other team served the ball),” explained Jennie.
Before the ball is served, every player has to be in her own rotation area. Once the ball is in play, the players must strategize on their location, their action, and their com- munication.
“The mental aspects in a volleyball game can be even more strenuous than the physical,” said Sophie.
“Mentally, you have to be tough. Once you mess up, you can’t get down on yourself, because another ball is coming for you within seconds,” added Katrina.
As in any sport, there is tons of pressure on each player to perform her best. From serving to leading, almost every action requires intense focus. An important element of the game is momentum: a missed serve or a wasted opportunity can easily shift the momentum to the other team, which, in turn, may change the tide of the game.
“A team can play really well one night and play really badly the next night because of their mental game,” said Elisabeth. Yet despite all the challenges these girls face, they find themselves in the playoffs, ready to make some noise.
“To prepare for playoffs, we are again looking at areas of improvement and where we can make adjustments,” said Coach Carney. With the championship in mind, the girls are training in basic techniques, strategies, and improved rotations.
“We are focusing in practice on preparing to play the best teams,” said Sophie. Once the playoffs start, the team may indeed be playing some of the best teams out there.
“Going in with confidence is key,” added Coach Carney.
As Elisabeth put it, “Volleyball is the best sport ever!”
Good luck, girls!