Girls Advance to VISAA Volleyball Semis

By Sydney Baker
Special Correspondent

The girls’ volleyball team traveled Nov. 7 to Newport News where they faced the #2 seed Cape Henry at 6 pm. “Cape Henry comes in with a 23-4 record while the Panthers now stand at 25-4,” reads the team’s Facebook page. “One final item – while traveling all the way to Newport News isn’t possible for many of our fans, you will still have a chance to watch play live and in real time. For the 1st time the VISAA, in cooperation with the NFHS, will be streaming all the matches on both Friday and Saturday. You will need to register with www.nfhsnetwork.com. The feed is free on-demand 72 hours after the event. There is a charge, starting at $9.95 to watch it live.”

The girls won the VISAA quarterfinals match 3-1 on Nov. 4 against St. Catherine’s School, coming off a heartbreaking 2-3 loss on Oct. 30 to the Academy of the Holy Cross in the WCAC finals match.

It is no secret that watching any competition on the higher stage is a thrill. And aatching the Paul VI varsity girls’ volleyball team play is just that. Picture this: A well dug ball sent high to the target, the spinning ball comes off the setter’s hands with ease, and the ball is smacked down by the hitter into an open space like it’s no big deal. It’s a wonder more people aren’t intrigued by volleyball. There are moments when the libero barely gets the pass up by diving to the ground or when the serve looks like it’s going out but stays in, creating an anticipation that brings spectators off their seats.

Members of  sports teams need to demonstrate commitment, hard work and passion to succeed.“This team is really great, because we are really cohesive,” says Erin Brunk ‘15. “Our plays are fluid, and we work through issues quickly, not to mention we put up a fight for each and every single point.” This showed through on the girls’ five-set win against Padua early in the season. Padua was the defending state champion of Delaware, and to beat them in a close, down-to-the-wire five-set game was a turning point in the Paul VI girls’ volleyball season according to Head Coach Sam Farrar, who teaches science.

Farrar says that what he is most proud of about his team. To him, it isn’t the amazing record (22-3) or the entertaining moments that the team has shared together, but the team’s demeanor on and off the court. For instance, the girls showed this attribute late in the season after a match they had easily won. “The opposing coach told me that we had the highest level of sportsmanship and respect for the game she had seen in several years. Wins are long forgotten but this attitude stays with you forever,” Farrar said.

Success is defined in different ways. You can find it in the chemistry of a team and the competitive nature of the team. When you combine the two together, you come up with an equation of the players pushing each other and themselves to be the best that they can be. “Every coach worries about team chemistry,” said Farrar. “We are truly blessed to have a number of good volleyball players, which resulted in a large roster. This turned into a big plus as our practices have consistently been active and competitive, which has contributed to our success.”

The girls’ chemistry can be seen on and off the court as Brunk told me how the team is notorious for sleeping on the way to and from away games. They are so comfortable with each other that they take pictures of each other and show them off to get a good laugh.

How does one find words to explain such a tightly knit team? Rachel Burkhardt ‘16 has the answer…sort of. “It’s hard to find words to describe such a versatile and remarkable team, because each person brings something unique and tremendous to the court.” It’s safe to say that this team has all the right ingredients for success.

Jalen King ‘17 explained that team members work well together because of the coaches. “Coach O is like the big sister on the team,” said King of  “She corrects us when we need it and is the first on to tell us a good job. Coach Boese is more of the strict coach and disciplinary guy on our team. Coach Farrar is the quiet guy on the bench, but when we need to get something done, he’ll be the first to let us know.”

The Paul VI girls’ varsity volleyball team ended its regular season with a 22-3 record, 16-2 in the WCAC (second behind Holy Cross, after being tied at first and losing the tie-breaker), a #9 Washington Post ranking and a #2 VISAA ranking. With their team success came individual recognition with seven of the fifteen  players receiving WCAC awards and honorable mentions, including

WCAC girls volleyball 2014WCAC Player of The Year Hailey Rubino
1st Team All-WCAC: Dawson Boese (3rd straight year) and Brooke Stanley
3rd Team All-WCAC: Kendall Mayer
Honorable Mention: Mak Balderson, Rachel Burkhardt and Madi Page

They beat Good Counsel 3-1 in the WCAC semi-finals after a solid quarterfinal win against St. John.

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