SERVES UP! The girls volleyball team aces the competition

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 As the girls varsity volleyball team ran through the arm tunnel created by the JV and freshman teams, the cheers and shouts of family and friends in the gym set the thick atmosphere ablaze. The start to the team’s April 1 victory was with Hononegah’s first missed serve. The Vikings then went on to beat Hononegah in their fourth game of the season in two sets: 25-23 in the first set, and 25-13 the second set.

   For the Vikings, there was nothing to joke about on this April Fool’s Day. 

   The team went on to win ten out of twelve games this season. Even with the changes of this year, the girls were able to still make those important team bonds that helped them win this game and the many to come.

   “At the beginning of the season, our weakness was definitely the separation between the team,” said Kali Szostek, junior right-side hitter. “We were not that close yet, but it was quickly changed and the environment is just so much fun and we genuinely all care about each other. I think that actually became our strength as well.”

Girls varsity volleyball players warm up before the April 1 game against Hononegah. (Za’nia Harris)

   Like everything else this year, the volleyball team had to adjust to COVID-19 restrictions. There was a capacity for spectators, masks were required, and social distancing was in place.

   “Some of the adjustments made for the Covid season would be having to wear masks,” said Szostek. “Every player is only allowed to bring eight people, and we have to social distance while seated on the bench.”

   Despite all of the struggles of the year, the players were still able to form strong bonds with each other and their coaches, helping them to play stronger games together.

   “I feel more connected to my team and coaches this season compared to previous years,” said Skylar Brackett, junior defensive specialist, “but besides that, the games pretty much have felt and been played the same.”

   Other than the presence of masks, the players say that the games are practically normal. Each player is allowed to bring eight people to watch and support them. All of these spectators sit in little groups in order to follow social distancing rules. The players benches are also spread out. Gameplay, however, is very much the same.

   “In my opinion, the games are a lot more fun. We get to spend a lot of time with each other before the game and kind of hype each other up before we play,” said Szostek. “There’s not that much of a difference other than masks.”

   Guilford’s biggest competitors this year are Hononegah and Belvidere North, much like years prior. During club season, many of the teams intermingle, which makes the competition even harder.

   “In my opinion, the best game we’ve had this year has been our first match against Hono,” said Brackett. “We all played extremely well: communication was loud, our passes were accurate, our hits were clever and aggressive, the sets were on point, and everyone’s energy was high. Good vibes bounced back and forth off of the entire team, and we left our gym with a solid win.”

   This year’s volleyball season was strange, but it helped the team to grow stronger and get to know each other better. They placed third overall.

   “As a senior, I am pretty sad that it is my last year being able to play for the Guilford volleyball program,” said Katylin Flynn, senior, “but I’m so thankful for all the girls who I’ve been with and grown so much with and I’ll have memories forever.”