On November 17th, the boys and girls volleyball teams took the court in the state semifinals. The boys faced Maury High School from Norfolk, Virginia at Godwin, while the girls squared off against Potomac Falls High School in Potomac Falls.
The boys took a two set lead before ultimately losing three sets to two in what was their first appearance in the state tournament in program history.
The girls also fought valiantly in a three sets to one loss in their first trip to the state tournament since the early 2000s.
While both teams came up short of their ultimate goal of winning a state title, this season was extremely successful for each team. The boys finished with a record of 25-4 and the girls 28-4 (both of which include the Virginia Showcase Tournament which did not count towards regular season record).
The boys are pleased with this season’s success, as senior co-captain Adam Smith said, “This was a great season for the program, we got plenty of recognition and really got our name out there. Hopefully that makes other students want to play Volleyball and we can grow as a whole.”
However, this great season did not come without adversity. Towards the end of the regular season, Smith sustained a serious back injury which sidelined him until the conference finals. During this time, the team sustained their only two losses of the season against Deep Run and Atlee.
During his absence, other players stepped up and held the team together until the dynamic outside hitter returned, especially junior setter Connor Hicks, whom Coach Di Frischia said always made good decisions on the court.
Once Smith returned, the team did not lose again until the state semifinals, and while he still experienced severe pain during each match, he put in hard work that contributed greatly to the team’s run to states.
Senior co-captain Spencer West contributes the team’s success to experience and also said, “We had a great team chemistry. We were all friends on and off the court, and enjoyed every minute we got to play together.”
This closeness helped the team to fight through tough matches and to succeed throughout the season.
The team hopes that this season advances the program in the future.
“Hopefully our success this season and the recognition we received will encourage more students to try out in the future. Of the 7 starters this year, only 2 of us had ever played volleyball before trying out for Godwin, and we ended up being part of a dominant team. I hope this can make people realize that you don’t have to be an experienced player to try out, be successful, and have fun,” said West.
Di Frischia hopes that the younger players on the team will return next year and work hard in order to have an even better season than this year’s squad.
The girls team is also pleased with their successful season, though they wish they had been able to win a state title for the lone senior on the team, Mackenzie Brewer.
The team fought through adversities this season, in particular, beating Deep Run in their second matchup of the season, after losing in their first meeting. Deep Run has a powerhouse volleyball program and a win against them boosted team moral.
Junior setter Nora Saxman described the team as more than a team, but rather a family. This chemistry and friendship helped the team to stay connected throughout the year and to stay focus on their goal of postseason success.
“I think [our success] had a lot to do with everyone having the common goal and drive to get it done. From day one everyone was competitive and focus on what we needed to do. It was a total team effort and you can’t beat that. When all players buy into what the program is trying to do it makes a huge impact. That’s what we saw this year,” said Coach Chris Wakefield.
Individuals on the team also had significant accomplishments. Brewer and junior Ayanna Swan committed to play in college, Brewer to Mary Washington and Swan to Ohio State.
Two significant individual statistic accomplishments were achieved by Brewer and Saxman. Brewer reached 1000 kills for her career and Saxman broke the VHSL state record for assists in a season, with 1150, edging the previous record of 1104 set in 2011.
The team hopes that the success of this season will lead to future success and possibly a state championship.
“Since we have been to the state tournament we will now know how to prepare for next year and be ready,” said Saxman.
The team is certainly well positioned to continue their success next season as the whole team except for Brewer is returning, including promising freshman Amanda Strong who had increased playing time in the postseason, as well as Saxman, and Swan.
Wakefield said, “This really doesn’t change anything for the future. Our goal remains the same, to win a state championship and grow players into young adults in the process. I’ve already started planning and working on next year. And I look to pick up right where we left off!”