A season of connection: Junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams wrap seasons

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Photo credit: Grace Doyle

The varsity volleyball team warms up at a match against Buckley in mid-October. “A big focus of mine for this season was connection,” Fenster said. “Just getting to know a lot of the girls outside of volleyball.”

By Alexis David, Staff Reporter

Bump, set, spike! After a full season, Archer’s JV and varsity volleyball teams have wrapped. JV ended their season with a win on Oct. 13, at their final game against De Toledo. Varsity volleyball, however, lost in the first round of CIF versus Saugus High School, placing 2nd in the league overall.

Despite the challenging year prior, which did not allow players to compete for a season, the teams came back, ready to put their best feet forward, according to head varsity coach Charlie Schmittdiel

“Coming back from not having a season last year … it was important that everyone was pulling their own,” Schmittdiel said. “I think, by the end of the season, that’s what everyone was doing, which was really nice to see.”

Although Schmittdiel had to take over halfway through the season, he was able to keep the team together and help improve their overall gameplay.

“I had to step in later in the season,” Schmittdiel said. “Starting off being assistant and then getting into the head coach [position] at the end … For me, it was just making sure everyone knew what their role was on the team and did it to a certain degree. That was my biggest goal.”

The varsity volleyball players, however, were undeterred by the change. Dani Fenster, a middle blocker on the varsity team, said the most challenging thing about this year was coming back after the pandemic-induced hiatus.

“We hadn’t worked together at all, really, because of the COVID season,” Fenster said. “We were all just new to each other as volleyball players. The biggest struggle was getting better at volleyball with each other.”

Regardless of this challenge, Fenster said the varsity team bonded quickly and were able to grow their skills together.

“It was actually very cool to see,” Fenster said. “Once we had some team meetings about connection and learned how to work well together, we got significantly better in a short amount of time.”

Freshman Lili Franks, a JV player, noticed the same changes on the JV team.

“Most of us were starting from the ground up,” Franks said. “We went from winning very few games to winning a lot more.”

Franks also commented on how her team has grown together and became friends. 

“I’m new at Archer so I didn’t know anybody,” Franks said. “I went from being strangers with these people to considering pretty much all of them my friends. I talk to these people all the time now.”

Both Fenster and Franks agree that volleyball is a game of trust which is essential to the overall success of the team.

A lot of volleyball is about trust. You have to trust every person on your team, or people will start to make mistakes and try to do other’s jobs,” Fenster said. “What’s really important about volleyball is that everyone knows their job, sticks to it, and trusts everyone around them to do their job.”

Fenster also said that, as the team grew closer, their gameplay simultaneously improved.

“After we had some team bonding, we just got to know each other more as people outside of volleyball and that helped us a lot with trust on the court,” Fenster said.

Schmittdiel commended how his team was able to work together this season, despite the challenging year prior.

“They’ve dealt with it like true sports,” Schmittdiel said. “They’re really resilient. Their work ethic was something to admire. They had to go through a lot of different hoops and they did it together, which was awesome.”

Franks has some advice for anyone wanting to try out for any sports team, including volleyball.

“I was so scared I was not going to get on the volleyball team,” Franks said. “I had so little experience. I think that you shouldn’t let that get in the way of trying out.”