Varsity volleyball aims for championship


Photo credit Clyde Click

After a tough win over Lovett a few weeks ago, the varsity volleyball team aims to be the state champion this year. After an outstanding start to the season, their hard work and a record of 6-6 are making their goal possible.

“The whole focus for this year is to go after a championship,” said Varsity head coach Jona Braden. “To get there, we will have to increase their unity, strength and understanding of the game.”

The experience of the five seniors, along with the skill set and athleticism of the underclassmen, combine to bring the strongest team forward for a successful season.The VolleyCats have already had an exceptional victory over Lovett this season, Westminster’s biggest competitor and rival.

“We felt that, even though we’ve moved up a region and are no longer in the same region as Lovett, the Westminster-Lovett game tradition just had to be continued,” said Braden. “So we put our best foot forward, took care of our jobs, and respected the rivalry that has been alive longer than the players have even been.”

The team itself also felt as motivated as their coach by their win over Lovett.

“We were all very energetic,” said sophomore volleycat Kayla Chambers. “We were all giving it our all whether we were on the court or off.”

“The team tries to think of the opponent as nameless and faceless,” said Braden, “and the greatest opponent is always themselves.”

By this, she means that they try to focus on how they can improve rather than on who the better team is, and they try to focus on the game within the game. In other words, they try to only get positive energy from the intensity of the rivalry. The VolleyCats take on Lovett again on Friday, Sept. 18, at 5:30 p.m.To the VolleyCats, the story isn’t always about winning. They strive to focus on improving and being the best that they can be through hard work and dedication rather than coming home with a win.

“Our focus is always on today and how we can get better today,” said Braden. “The only question we ask ourselves during practice is ‘What are we learning today and how can we get better?’”

The varsity team shows willingness to learn and improve through their long, vigorous practices and an intense schedule. Braden attempts to share all of her skills and experiences with the girls, and she enjoys watching them retain the information and use it in critical situations.

“The way everything all comes together and unfolds is actually really unique,” said Braden. “It’s probably my favorite part of the whole experience.”

Some of the skills you learn through playing volleyball, such as teamwork or awareness, are not only extremely important for volleyball, but they’re also critical skills for life in general.The VolleyCats enjoy learning together from their coach and using skills they learn from their coach and other players on the team from practices to win games.

“I enjoy sharing the game,” said Braden, “and observing how the players take it in and enjoy it.”

The whole team bonds over their knowledge of the game and has fun playing the game with each other.

“We’re like a little family,” said Chambers, “and it’s really fun to just be with everyone.”

They enjoy going after championships together as much as they love just hanging out in the locker room before a game. And during the tough games, everyone is participating in the game even if they’re not playing that day by cheering and energizing the players with positive energy.

“Everyone just gives everything they have,” said Chambers, “whether they’re on the court or on the sidelines.”

Each and every player is a huge piece of the team.

“I hope that every player discovers who they are and how they’re uniquely special,” said Braden. “I hope they see and understand how remarkably important they are to the team.”

They all come together to form the solid varsity volleyball team we have now, and their love and passion for the game and each other displays a huge open door for victory, success, and the state championship ring.The five seniors on the team, Mackenzie Shannon, Mason Rooney, Mallie Egan, Jacqueline Baltz, and Kerrie Greene, bring 3 years of varsity involvement to the table – which is an extremely important and helpful teaching asset to the younger, less practiced players on the team.

“I think my greatest contribution to the team is my experience,” said Shannon, “and I also think that helps me with being a good leader on the team.”

The seniors show understanding of the game that they can help their coach pass down to the younger players on the team. They continue to work hard to be the best they can be before their volleyball career in high school is over.

“I just really want to compete in state again,” said Shannon, “because it’s my last season.”

The seniors are especially driven because this season is their last varsity season, and they hope to not only make it to state, but also possibly win the state playoffs. The VolleyCats look forward to an especially amazing season and the region and state playoffs that come after. If the team can keep up their continuous hard work and strong passion for the game, the state ring may as well be on their fingers already.