Q&A with MS Volleyball captains: Chloe Chu, Gemma Larbalestier, Callie Wicklander, Juliette Hoeber

The purple volleyball team, led by sixth grader Juliette Hoeber and seventh grader Callie Wicklander, gathers in a huddle on Archer's Sport Court. The team is composed mainly of new Archer students, and a sense of unity was a main goal for both Hoeber and Wicklander.

Photo credit: Kim Smith

The purple volleyball team, led by sixth grader Juliette Hoeber and seventh grader Callie Wicklander, gathers in a huddle on Archer's Sport Court. The team is composed mainly of new Archer students, and a sense of unity was a main goal for both Hoeber and Wicklander.

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This season, 27 middle schoolers tried out for the volleyball team. Since only 6 players can be on the court at a time, the sheer number of prospective team members prompted the athletics department to create two middle school teams.

The purple team is made up exclusively of the class of 2024 and is captained by eighth graders Chloe Chu and Gemma Larbalestier. The green team consists of the seventh and sixth graders of the middle school, with seventh grader Callie Wicklander and sixth grader Juliette Hoeber as its captains. All four captains have played on a club team for two years, in addition to playing on Archer’s teams for all of their years since enrollment. The Oracle sat down with Chu, Larbalestier, Wicklander and Hoeber to discuss the middle school volleyball season thus far.

How has being on the volleyball team affected your experience at Archer? 

Chloe Chu [CC]: I know I’m getting a lot more confused in my classes because I’m missing so many [laughs]. But, you build a really great bond with other people that you don’t hang out with all the time. It’s a lot of fun.

If you could describe your team’s dynamic in one word, what would it be and why?

CC: Very energetic [and] cheerful. We have a lot of energy; it’s a great vibe: very positive, not a lot of negativity.

Gemma Larbalestier [GL]: That’s a lot of words. [laughs] But also sometimes [the team is] kind of chaotic. People have all different levels of experience with volleyball, but it’s also just fun to see people getting better.

Juliette Hoeber [JH]: Growing, because everyone [on the team] is kind of new. It can be hard sometimes, but we’re overall pretty good.

Do you think you are going to continue to play volleyball throughout your time at Archer? 

CC: Yes. Volleyball is something that I just started really liking. It’s kind of hard to find a balance, but it’s something that I really love to do, and so I hope I can keep doing it.

GL: I think with school there’s so much spirit, and everyone bonds a lot when we’re playing. My club coach [advises] upper school volleyball, so it will be exciting to get to play with her and be with other grades also.

As captains, what’s your number one goal for your teams? 

Callie Wicklander [CW]: To get three touches: to have a pass, a set and hit [the ball]. Not just free-balling, first [we should] pass. [I want us] to bond more. The seventh graders don’t really talk to the sixth graders.

CC: Communication and trusting that the other person will get the ball, not kind of being a ball hog. Making sure that everyone is having fun and everybody is contributing to that.

GL: Also, since we’re all at different places, for everyone to get better in their own way. [We want to] just do our best and do what we can.

What are some things you are proud of that you have already accomplished this season?

CW: For half of the team, it’s their first year…but I feel like they learned a lot and got a lot better.

JH: Yeah, our team’s very good at improving and growing, so we worked together pretty well. There were some [difficult] moments, but we got over it pretty good.

GL: I think we’ve been doing pretty well in the games, and some of the new players have been stepping up during the games, and actually scoring a lot of points. Everyone’s really supportive.

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