Varsity Volleyball Digs Into Delayed Season

 

Photo courtesy of Erin McPhilmy.

The sound of squeaking shoes and bouncing volleyballs echoes throughout Woodson’s gym as the varsity volleyball team finally gets to put their mark on the court for the first time in over a year. After winning regionals and being state runners-up in the 2019 season, this team has the energy and excitement that can carry them through the new season. 

The volleyball season started on Feb. 15, which is six months later than the usual start due to the COVID restrictions implemented by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). 

“It was kind of annoying because there were so many unknowns, and we didn’t even know about the shorter season until we knew already we weren’t going to have the fall season, so there was a point where we were like, are we even going to have a season?” said senior and captain Jaden Reasor. “The hardest part is that we have to do it at the same time as club volleyball, and it has been difficult to manage the two at the same time, but it’s just nice that we can even have the high school season at all.”

Because the school year started virtually, it was difficult for anyone to see teammates, especially for freshmen. Though exciting, the return to volleyball and the introduction to new teammates have been both nerve-wracking and unfamiliar.

Jaden Reasor diving for the ball as it falls to the floor. Photo courtesy of Jaden Reasor.

“Going from having school all online to seeing these people I’ve never talked to before in a team situation was hard at first, but everyone on the team is so welcoming and sweet,” said freshman Maura Fay. “It was very nice to get to meet all of them, even in these circumstances.”

In addition, there are only three freshmen on varsity, so it can be difficult for them to adjust to the new team environment.

“In a club team, everyone’s the same age as you. I have more in common with them and can talk about starting high school, but with high school volleyball, it’s very spread out age-wise, so it’s harder because everyone has different experiences,” said Fay. 

However, the team has not made this transition difficult. Through their tight-knit bonding activities and welcoming nature, the girls have been improving their team dynamic, which is an important aspect of volleyball. 

“When I joined the Woodson volleyball team, I was expecting it to be similar to my club team where we just go to tournaments and games and don’t do much outside of it,” said Fay. “With the high school team, the bus rides to games and the little games we play to get hyped up are very fun and exciting.”

Some examples of their traditions include playing “throwback” songs on the bus before games and always playing Ultralight Beam by Kanye West as the last song before they return to Woodson.

“Before games, we do this cheer called ‘gigalo.’ We get in a circle, we do this chant, and everyone has to do a certain dance move. It’s just so funny to see what dances people choose,” said Reasor. 

Though one of the team goals for this season is to have fun, the competitive nature of the sport also encourages the team to find success this season.

“I’m excited to go back to districts and regionals, and hopefully states again because I kind of want a rematch from last year,” said senior and captain Erin McPhilomy.

However, achieving these goals is not going to be easy. With nine seniors gone and one starter who moved, the team has to focus on how to adapt to these changes.

“Obviously, we have very big shoes to fill this season. We lost a lot of starters, especially hitters, so we’re trying to adjust to that,” said Reasor. “We’re still working on finding our flow together and continuing success. There’s kind of big expectations, but at the same time, our coaches don’t really put pressure on us to win.”

Along with the coaches, the captains also have a responsibility to encourage the team, keep them focused and motivate them to play at their best potential.

“We have to be more on top of our game since everything’s changing so much so quickly,” said McPhilomy. “We’ve already had three games canceled because of COVID and may be rescheduled, so we have to keep on top of that to make sure that our team is on top of it.”

Despite the obstacles they have faced this year, the team is still constantly staying positive, especially because high school volleyball is often a stress reliever for most players. No matter what the outcome of their season is, the girls are just looking forward to doing what they’re meant to do on the court.

“They’re always so optimistic, and that’s helped us do as well as we have been,” said Fay. “Mistakes don’t get anyone down. They build from them.”