Seventh grade volleyball team spikes in participation, wins PBL championship

Seventh+grade+volleyball+co-captain+Chloe+Kennedy+spikes+the+ball+during+a+the+teams+first+PBL+Playoff+game%2C+Oct.+31.+Co-captains+Lily+Kennedy+and+Sophie+Salehi+noted+that+they+were+proud+of+their+undefeated+status+and+appreciated+the+sense+of+community+that+they+felt+being+on+the+team.

Photo credit: Kim Smith

Seventh grade volleyball co-captain Chloe Kennedy spikes the ball during the team’s first Pacific Basic League Playoff game, Oct. 31. Co-captains Lily Kennedy and Sophie Salehi noted that they were proud of their undefeated status and appreciated the sense of community that they felt being on the team.

By Nina Sperling , Senior Reporter

The seventh grade volleyball team broke Archer’s record for the largest sports team with 33 members participating — more than a third of the grade.

Due to the size of the team, the Athletics Department decided to split the seventh grade into a competing team and a practice team. Each student who signed up for volleyball was put on one of the teams based on their skill level. History teacher Jillian Glynn coaches both teams.

The competing team remained undefeated since their first game against St. Matthew’s School, Sept. 20, and won the 2022 Pacific Basic League Championship game on Friday, Nov. 4, against Calvary Christian.

Alice Rifenbark said that she enjoyed being on the practice team because she was able to focus on improving her volleyball skills without the pressure to perform.

“I like how when we’re practicing, we have a smaller group,” Rifenbark said. “It’s more fun because you can do more [skills] with smaller groups.”

While the practice team continued to learn more elements of volleyball throughout the season, the competing team, made up of 15 members, played in the league and playoff games. The team was led by grade captains Sophie Salehi, Chloe Kennedy and Lily Kennedy. Salehi has been playing volleyball since she was seven years old, and this year was her second year playing at Archer.

“I really like volleyball because I’ve been doing it for so long,” Salehi said. “I really like my grade and my team. I think that really motivates me to play because they’re all really fun. And it’s fun to hang out with them.”

Seventh grader Maggie Collins, who frequently played as a setter, is new to volleyball this year. Collins said she appreciates the encouragement that she received from other team members.

“I really like being at the games [and] supporting my teammates. I think it’s super fun [being] all together,” Collins said. “All of the people have been very supportive — it’s been a good journey.”

Salehi has also appreciated bonding with her teammates. She said she was able to see how the team connected outside of the court and the sportsmanship of the team on the court.

“One of my highlights was the tryouts at the beginning of the season [and] the first day of practice because getting to know everyone was really fun,” Salehi said. “Seeing how everyone played showed how we were going to do throughout the season.”

Glynn said that one of her goals for the year was for all team members to demonstrate sportsmanship, as well as continuing to improve at playing volleyball. She added that she is happy that the team kept their undefeated status, but what is most important to her is that they enjoyed themselves and built a sense of community within the team.

“They are so much fun to work with. They really care about the sport,” Glynn said. “They’re there and ready to go every time they show up for practice, and I really appreciate that.”

Glynn said she believes the team remained undefeated because they were very skilled at serving, which often leads them to their victories. She said they have also remained positive and grown in their confidence since their fist game. Before the playoffs, Glynn reflected on her goals for the team throughout the remainder of the season.

“Hopefully, [they finish] out with a perfect record, but I just want to enjoy my last week or two with them, and I want them to enjoy their last week or two,” Glynn said. “I think they’ll do wonderfully in playoffs. But if they don’t win, I want them to still feel like these last two weeks were worth it.”‘

The seventh grade volleyball team won the PBL championship after earning second place last year. Lily Kennedy said she found her experience on the volleyball team rewarding and she will miss practicing with her teammates now that the season has ended.

“When we won the PBL championships, I felt accomplished and proud of my teammates and me for coming a long way from the beginning of the season to the end,” Kennedy said. “I was also sad for not having Ms. [Glynn] as my coach and seeing all of the seventh grade volleyball team every [practice].”