Going undefeated without dropping a single set is not a job for the faint hearted, but varsity girls volleyball stormed into Vienna and dominated every opponent in sight. The conclusion of their unbeaten tournament was a hard fought final against ACS Athens that led to them claiming gold as well as earning promotion to Division 1 for next season.
Abby Ball (’17), who received all-tournament recognition, knew that the team had a lot of “promise” leading into the tournament. “We knew that if we played our best and kept our mental game strong we would able to go far,” she said.
Along with Ball, Monica Brendsel (’15), Momo Steele (’16), Maya Matejeck (’17) and Livy Scott (’17) also received all-tournament honors.
For varsity girls volleyball coach Lisi Arrarte, the goal was always to come home with a gold medal. “We came in this year pretty set on getting the gold medal. In the last two years in Division 2 we’ve gotten the bronze, and then the silver last year so we knew what it would take and were pretty confident that we could make it happen this year.
“The girls were incredibly focused and motivated, and I’d say we definitely had it pretty set in our minds that this was our year to win and move up,” Arrarte said.
Varsity girls volleyball co-captain Caroline Schneider (’15), who has been on the team since her sophomore year, describes this win as “beyond rewarding.” “To finally achieve gold this year means so much to me. Although I’m sad that I won’t be here to play in [Division 1], I’m happy to know I contributed to reaching our goal,” she said.
Ball believes that their success at ISSTs can be attributed to the team’s collective effort. “It was our togetherness that led to us being so successful and not even dropping a set,” she said.
Schneider was particularly impressed with the players’ composure, and believes that it contributed to their success. “No matter what the score was, everyone managed to hold it together and keep fighting. We played our best and left everything on the court and I couldn’t be more proud,” she said.
Heading into the final against ACS Athens, Schneider felt “very little anxiety” in what would be her final game as captain of the team. “In the locker room prior to the final game we were listening to music and everyone was smiling. We all had faith in each other’s abilities and I think that played an important role in our success,” she said.
With the team primarily consisting of underclassmen, Arrarte didn’t have any worries about a lack of experience, citing the captains’ experience as imperative to the team’s chemistry. “Both of our captains – Momo Steele and Caroline Schneider – were at their third ISSTs so they were instrumental in keeping the vibe on the court calm and the team focused,” she said.
Looking ahead, Ball says that the team are ready to compete with the same “fire” and “perseverance” next year in Division 1.
For Arrate, the sky’s the limit when considering how the team will fare in Division 1. “Our girls beat some of the top seeded schools in [Division 1] during the regular season this year and while we will be losing three of our starters, we have a strong core remaining,” she said. “I think if we keep moving forward with the momentum we have at the moment we’ll be a force to be reckoned with next year.”