The girls volleyball team’s second season at PHS is now underway. Although still self-funded, the girls have embarked on their first year as an official varsity team and have had several wins.
Because of the team’s varsity status, Head Coach Patricia Manhart decided to host tryouts and make cuts. A smaller team gives each girl more playing time, thus allowing for more improvement. To get a head start on the season, many girls began their preparations in early August.
“We had a preseason even before the tryouts, and it really helped that the girls who came showed dedication … [It] proved that they were here to seriously play volleyball,” said Captain Lydia Bhattacharya ’15.
However, the competitive nature of the tryouts did not deprive the Little Tigers of their sportsmanship. “Since there were tryouts, it was definitely a little more competitive than last year, but [it] didn’t seem like that,” said Amy Song ’16, who plays as a setter. “Everyone was really friendly with each other. We all helped each other with everything.”
“They have to look for growth in themselves and growth as a team,” said Manhart. To Manhart, the small-point wins such as successful blocks, well-played defense, and effective digs are all things that reflect progress. “I always teach them to take the small victories as we go, because it’s not always going to be reflected in the winning record,” she said. “But now … they see that small points can actually translate into a win.”
The girls have turned these small victories into three wins so far this year, two over Hopewell Valley Central High School and one over Collingswood High School. This winning record is up from their one win last year.
“Because this is a new sport, no one is extremely used to the way it works. You need to stay in every single point,” said Bhattacharya. “A lot of girls are working toward [that].” By concentrating on nailing every point, together the girls hope to continue making small steps into big wins.
Whether they’re on-court or off-court, the girls always support one another. If a player makes a mistake, the team does not scold or bash that individual, but consoles her positive c
“On our team, everyone is calm and collected,” said Song. “I’ve seen other teams where someone makes a mistake [and] there’s someone yelling at them or just showing bad teamwork. When something goes wrong during the point we just huddle together in a circle and share what to work on for the next point.”
Middle blocker Noel Xie ’15 agrees that collaboration and encouragement of one another strengthen the team. “We really motivate each other to do better. Everybody encourages each other to do their best. [I really enjoy] the positive atmosphere,” said Xie.
As with any young team, according to Bhattacharya, the girls still have some things to fix. “As a team, I think we are going to work on … coming together more,” she said. “We really learned that as the time gets tough and it’s a tight score that we really need to push through and get our passes up … In practice we have to work on game-like situations and closing every point, getting a kill for each spike.”
Manhart recommends that the girls continue their dedication to the sport and advance their skills in the off-season. She said, “I look forward [to] having [the girls] come back again and … get better every year.”