After suffering a tough deficit against St. Paul’s at the end of its previous season, Andover Girls Volleyball appears to already be in shape for a promising season ahead, headed by returning Captain Serena Liu ’19.
Brooklyn Wirt ’21 said, “Liu is [already having a great start to the season], she’s our Captain, she’s a libero, she lays out for everything. She can get up every ball — it’s very impressive.”
Despite finishing with a strong 11-4 record last year, the team looks only to continue improving with the help of several new additions to the team, including Shayla Eubanks PG ’19, Mudmee Sereeyothin ’20, Warren Clark ’21, Sascha Evans ’21, and Delaney Arkell ‘22.
Wirt continued, “We have some new blood, not necessarily even new to the school, but new to the team. We have a couple of people who moved up from JV, a couple of new students, a PG, and we are working well together so far this season. Sascha is new to the team, as is Mudmee, and they are both doing very well as outside hitters. Brooke [Fleming ’20] is obviously our main setter, and she’s doing great, as well as Sarah [Chen ’21], who was on the team last year. She is moving now to more [of a] playing position because she was injured last year.”
Liu said, “The girls volleyball team is comprised of 14 girls this year with nine returning varsity players and five new players on the team. Over the course of the few practices we have had together as teammates, each and every player has shown the depth in skill they bring to the team as well as their positive, enthusiastic energy.”
Even though many of last year’s critical athletes have since graduated, Andover still performed exceptionally during its preseason, according to Head Coach Clyfe Beckwith.
Coach Beckwith said, “Preseason was an exceptionally deep group of 24 this year — strongest in memory [for me].”
Wirt added, “Preseason was good. We got to see all of the people in the program, which is something we really only get to do in the beginning of the season. There was definitely a lot of competition for the open spots, and everyone put up a really good fight for them.”
During its preseason, Andover honed its strategies and quickly built its team chemistry to high levels for its upcoming matchups. Although the team’s player to player bonds have tightened over the course of its training, Coach Beckwith’s positive outlook and trust in his athletes to hone their own abilities.
Liu continued, “We have primarily focused on six-on-six play in preparation for our game versus BB&N and our games on Saturday versus Taft and Hotchkiss, and we have already shown some great team chemistry that usually takes a couple of games to develop. Additionally, as a pretty young team, we are looking to maintain the level of enthusiasm we have brought to practice these past few days and will focus on relying on the depth in skill of all 14 players for a great start to the season, which will set the tone for a successful season.”
Wirt said, “Coach Beckwith is awesome. He always tries to make practice really fun and leaves a lot of stuff up to us, like what we want to be doing, and if we are tired of a drill he will always tell us to let him know when we want to move on. He has a really fun personality.”
Unfortunately, the Andover’s annual Team Prep camp was not available this summer due to a low number of attending athletes; however, the many members of the team maintained and heightened their skill levels over the break by attending independent volleyball camps.
Wirt continued, “Over the summer, Coach [Beckwith] tasked us with working out on own and trying to increase our verticals, because that was definitely something the team last year was lacking. Individually, we were all supposed to work on that, but we [couldn’t] t train together as a group over the summer.”
The team hopes for a strong season ahead and will capitalize on the experience of returning athletes and the new talents in new players.
Coach Beckwith said, “Just how successful this season will… depend on how quickly the team will gel, be able to read each other on the court, cover for each other and make faster attacks; the skills and athleticism are present.”