This spring's award program honored over 25 student-athletes for their athletic excellence.
Varsity Volleyball - Girls
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Varsity Season Record: 6-13
Captains: Grace Deng ’17 and Abby Goodman ’17
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: Serena Gao ’18; Most Improved Player: Courtney Brewer ’18; Spirit Award: Abby Goodman ’17 and Grace Deng ’17
Starting the season on few weeks of practice and skill work may pose as a disadvantage to most teams, but the WRA volleyball team pushes through this challenge each season and doesn’t let it hold them back. “We are always behind the curve, but one of my favorite things to see each season is watching the girls improve, and we improve more than other teams and at a much faster pace,” said Head Coach Sherry Chlysta.
Despite falling to many teams within the first half of the season, the team's hard work and dedication paid off. When they faced these teams again later in the season, WRA was often victorious. WRA lost to Hearts for Jesus Christ in late August, losing three matches to none, but improved and won in their second game just a month later. Garfield Heights High School took the win early in the season, but WRA came through and won 3-2 just a few weeks later, showing the team’s progress from week to week.
As the season progressed, the team won pretty consistently and ended the season with a five-game winning streak. “We didn’t focus on win versus lose but rather focused on getting better every time. Everyone on the team stayed positive, and all of the girls were in the game even if they were on the bench,” said Chlysta
“We had a super group of girls who put their teammates ahead of themselves and worked hard every day,” said Chlysta. "We were fortunate to have strong senior leadership from our captains, Grace Deng ’17 and Abby Goodman ’17. Both were voted Spirit Award winners by their teammates. While they will be greatly missed, the rest of the team remains intact for next year and we look forward to building on the successes of this year and moving forward into the next season. We have several young, strong players, who will contribute greatly in years to come."
The season did pose its challenges, with many injuries across the entire team. “One game we were out of subs and had to call two timeouts in a row to try to get Abby back because she was sick. Everyone was willing to do what they had to do and adjusted very well,” said Chlysta.
The team will only be graduating a few seniors this school year. Next year won’t be as much of a building year, helping the team to pick up where they left off at the end of this season. “I imagine that we will be able to pick up steam quicker next year, and it will be a winning season,” said Chlysta.
Varsity Season Record: 3-22
Captain: Rachel Morris ’16
Athletic Awards: Most Improved Player: Serena Gao ’18; Spirit Award: Abby Goodman ’16 and Dana Lake ’18; Most Valuable Player: Rachel Morris ’16
From time to time, a team’s record does not indicate the growth that they achieved over the course of a season. Rather, it is the small victories, the team-building moments that define the season. Even though the girls varsity volleyball team lost six of its seven starters to graduation, they found a way to persevere, completing the 2015 season as a brand new team.
“These twelve girls consistently supported each other, helped each other, and worked hard for each other,” said Head Coach Sherry Chlysta. “When we voted for awards, every girl on the team received at least one vote for an award. This has never happened before! The importance of each individual was clear from the beginning.”
One of the program’s signature wins this year was a five-set home victory over visiting John Adams High School. After winning the first two sets, the Pioneers encountered a re-invigorated John Adams squad that won the ensuing sets to force a deciding game. Rallying around one another, the girls pulled away in the fifth set to secure the victory for the home team.
“As we moved through the season, improvement was evident on a weekly basis. By the end of the season, we had more than improvement. They had transformed into a completely different team. With the strides we made this season, I am very excited about the future of our program.”
The volleyball team was anchored by senior captain and libero Rachel Morris ’16. Her defensive play saved many a ball from touching the floor and instilled confidence in her team to never give up on the point. Felicity White ‘18 made huge strides as a middle hitter, coming up with clutch kills or blocks when needed.
For next season, the Pioneers return all but one member on their roster. With young talent and a close-knit core of girls, the team will be poised to continue their growth. Grace Deng ‘17 and Abby Goodman ‘17 will captain the squad for the 2016 season.