By Anna Detke
COVID tests, quarantines, undefeated seasons, and more; whether it was winning a game 3-2 or pushing 27-25, the New Hyde Park volleyball program has had an eventful season full of successes. With the wrap-up of the volleyball season, teams and coaches reflect on the struggles and successes of the past season.
Having ten wins and just two losses, the girls' varsity volleyball team has placed second in their conference and were able to maintain team bonding as well as a skilled level of performance during an especially short forty-five-day season.
Players and coaches made the best of their season through various means. Coach Rizzuti instituted a buddy system to introduce team-building skills, friendship and camaraderie among players. This allowed players to build a sense of team pride, which encouraged the athletes to perfect their game.
“...getting COVID tested together brought us together...”
“What has brought this team together is gratitude for being able to play this season and [appreciating] everyone that shows up every day to continuously motivate each other to be better volleyball players. This team was able to unite with each other very quickly and that shows in our successful record,” said girls' varsity coach, Ms. Rizzuti.
Since volleyball was deemed a high-risk sport, players were mandated under New York State regulations to be tested weekly for COVID-19. Due to its high-risk nature, teams had to work extra hard to develop team chemistry.
“We all stayed in touch throughout the season and, not going to lie, getting COVID tested together brought us together…[I was able to watch] myself grow and teammates who I haven't played with in a while grow as well,” said junior Lauren DiGregorio.
Senior players faced a very interesting season. Many felt a bit nervous about what their senior season would look like during the pandemic. However, athletes made the best of it and were able to persevere and carry out a winning season.
“My favorite part of playing on the team this season was definitely being captain with my two friends and teammates, Paige and Claire. Ever since I made the JV team in eighth grade, I dreamed of being captain, so I love that I got to be captain of such a talented team with two of my friends,” said senior captain, Gina Bamberger.
Sources by Olivia Wong
Junior Lauren DiGregorio takes a swing at her serve; the team comes in for a huddle after scoring a point.
The JV girls' volleyball team has had a very successful season. The team has nine wins and zero losses, making the team undefeated. The athletes have faced a fair share of challenges throughout their season but have been able to outperform all other teams in their conference.
“It feels amazing to have been on this crazy streak going 9-0. Our team’s ability to gauge where the ball is going has gotten better and better each game and every day. It has allowed us to perform more efficiently as a team,” said sophomore middle hitter, Emily Speter.
The girls' JV team had the additional struggle of having a team of only nine players, which is just three more than the minimum required to play. This presented a new challenge for the team, as they not only had to perfect their game, but also had to make sure their endurance was at its peak to keep their energy up during one to two-hour-long matches. However, playing on a smaller team also allowed the athletes to build a greater connection with one another.
“Adjusting to having a small team has been a challenge. We are all playing a lot more now because of how small the team is, and it can get tiring, but it’s also exciting to be on the court for almost everything,” said sophomore middle hitter, Kristen Schneider.
“My favorite part about playing on the team this season was the benefits that came with having a smaller team. This year especially it has become easier to develop a sort of chemistry on the court and know how to use each of our players most effectively,” said sophomore setter Tina Torre.
The undefeated season has been something celebrated by the players for multiple reasons. Not only have they trained hard for the achievement, but it comes after a previous season in which the team was not as successful. During the 2019-2020 school year, the JV team had six wins and eight losses. Shifting from a losing season the previous year to a completely undefeated season is something that the athletes have taken great pride in.
“I think having an undefeated season so far is a great feeling. Coming from not a good record last year to the best we can do this year really shows how much improvement we all have made from most of us doing outside travel teams,” said sophomore outside hitter Emma Treadwell.
The athletes credit their success to a multitude of factors. From effective training on the part of their coach, Mr. Barbieri, to the passion the players have for their sport, the team is very happy to have the record they do.
“Seeing as this is my first year in JV, it's honestly really impressive, and I'm constantly astounded by the others during games. The girls are very strong servers as well as players, so we have all bases covered so to say,” said freshman setter Sarah Munson.
“I think we played well together as a team and practices made us get closer to one another,” said defensive specialist and outside hitter Sarah Mathew.
The athletes not only went undefeated for games, but also for sets. During their whole season, the players did not lose a single set and defeated all the teams they played within three sets, rather than five. This is something that the players and their coach have greatly celebrated considering how difficult something like this is to achieve.
“This was the most talented JV team that I have ever coached. They dominated each match with superior serving, passing and overall court play... my favorite part of the season was watching the camaraderie amongst the team members at practices and games. They really enjoyed each other’s company and did not want the season to end. I look forward to watching them on the varsity team next year,” said Coach Barbieri.
Sources by @nhpathletics and Anna Detke
Serving it up, sophomore Emma Treadwell jump serves her way to victory; The JV girls' volleyball poses for a team photo. BACK: Coach Craig Barbieri, sophomores Anna Detke, Kristen Schneider, and Emily Speter. MIDDLE: Sophomores Emma Treadwell, Sarah Matthew, and Tina Torre. FRONT: Freshmen Mia Seeto, Helena Kamberis, and Sarah Munson.
Having a record of two wins and nine losses, the boys' varsity volleyball team was able to make playoffs in their conference. Despite the precautions, players were still able to enjoy their season and play to the best of their abilities during an extremely competitive season.
“We were a little distant from each other than we normally would have been. Our team managed to have our fair share of bonding moments,” said junior Chris John.
Teams also faced new challenges with the shortened season. During non-pandemic years, the fall sports season lasted for approximately ten weeks, with about seventy days in the season. This year, the season lasted just shy of seven weeks, with forty-five days allotted for the season. Some players felt as though the reduced time amended the progress they could have made during a normal-length season.
“[We struggled with] putting the right people at the right positions. We found out the right people a little too late, and it would’ve been better if we had better chemistry earlier,” said senior Caleb Lee.
Despite the challenges the athletes faced, they were able to pull through to playoffs in the highest conference in Nassau County.
“Going to playoffs this year is exciting. Being in this top division we had seen a lot of competition and some skilled schools. It has been a great warm-up and looks into the competition we will be seeing during playoffs. Knowing that the boys have worked so hard these past couple of weeks, it’s wonderful they have something to look forward to,” said Coach Leydon.
Sources by Anna Detke
Going for a pass, senior Caleb Lee dives down to the court to pick up a ball; serving it up, Lee puts a topspin on his hit; senior middle hitter Joshua Benjamin swings at a set; senior hitter Ryan Sung jumps for the ball.
The JV boys' team also had a successful season with four wins and three losses. The players began the season with a rough start, having a losing streak of three. Despite this, the boys were able to pull their season back and have a winning season.
“After losing the first three games of the season, we were all kind of discouraged, but we improved day by day. Everyone on the team always gives 110% at each game and always wants to win. Our hard work paid off and we are currently on a four-game win streak,” said sophomore volleyball player Bevin Mathew.
The volleyball season was also the first time that many student-athletes returned back to school after quarantining since last March. This gave many athletes the opportunity to create new social outlets and reconnect with old friends with whom they had lost touch over the pandemic.
“After being in quarantine for over a year, it felt great talking and seeing old friends and creating new friends throughout the season. I also got to see the team’s skill level progressively get better throughout the season, so that was something that was really cool to watch,” said sophomore Sam Tsui.
“The atmosphere is probably my favorite part of volleyball because everyone is so passionate about the sport, and they show it on and off the court,” said freshman Nicholas Prada.
The volleyball season has been a great success for all teams within the program. Despite the challenges, athletes have risen to the task and truly have left everything out on the court.