Sarah Chen ’21 set the ball to outside-hitter Brooklyn Wirt ’21 who sent the ball straight down in front of her opponent’s feet. This point contributed to Andover Girls Volleyball’s 3-0 win on Wednesday against rival Phillips Exeter Academy, with set scores of 25-23, 25-12, and 25-22. Andover also played St. Paul’s on Friday last week, losing 0-3 and bringing its record to 5-2.
Despite initially being down 21-22 to Exeter in the first set of the game, Andover persisted, taking back the serve and eventually reclaiming the set. According to Sascha Evans ’21 and Wirt, Andover’s ability to remain collected and resilient throughout all of its sets was essential to the team’s success on Wednesday.
Evans said, “We’ve improved by not becoming tense under pressure because in the first set we were fighting for the win until the very end and then kept up the good work.”
Wirt said, “We really pushed through and pulled it together when we would get down by a few points. Everyone worked really hard and kept with the game even when we got down.”
According to Evans and Wirt, Exeter possessed many talented players, but Andover’s focus and determination ultimately overwhelmed its opponents.
Evans said, “I was proud of how we all reacted to the other team, adjusting to their three-person block among other things. They have some really strong hitters and know volleyball really well, but we worked by trying to get into their heads and not let them get into ours.”
“Exeter has strong hitters and we had to work hard to be in the correct position for defense. I think that our two teams are pretty evenly matched but a big part of success in volleyball is wanting to be on the court and wanting every ball. [On Wednesday] we had a lot more of that want and it showed,” said Wirt.
Because Andover played St. Paul’s over Family Weekend, multiple players were absent from the roster with other commitments. Without its full roster, the team was forced to make adjustments to its typical line-up, according to Wirt and Head Coach Clyfe Beckwith.
Wirt said, “The most difficult part of the game was that many people were playing positions they didn’t usually play because four people were gone. I think everyone did a great job of stepping up despite the new positions, but that was certainly a challenge and we didn’t have the chance to practice these positions much because it was a Friday game so we lost a practice.”
“We had to run a new line-up due to four absences because of Family Weekend activities. The team did a terrific job adjusting and fighting, and multiple times taking a lead against the number one team in the league right now,” wrote Coach Beckwith in an email to The Phillipian.
Despite these absences, Andover managed to keep the score moving back and forth between both sides, as indicated by the its results of 21-25, 20-25, and 16-25. According to Mudmee Sereeyothin ’20, Saturday’s match showcased Andover’s depth of talent and its ability to adapt to atypical circumstances.
Sereeyothin wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I think the fact that we kept the score pretty close really shows the depth of our team. We kept up with a good team like St. Paul’s even without our whole starting line-up there. I think what kept us from finishing each set off with a win was that our energy and somewhat our confidence dropped towards the end of the set. We definitely had a shot at winning though. I’m excited for us to play them again at the end of the month and show them more of what we’ve really got.”
Looking forward, the team strives to remain consistent and confident in its remaining matches, according to Wirt and Sereeyothin.
Wirt said, “I think our serve receive has some room for improvement, but that is something that can always be better no matter how good the team is. I also think we need to work on making good choices and working to make plays rather that swinging away on balls that we need to just get over. We also need to work on consistency but that is another thing that can always be improved no matter how good the team.”
Sereeyothin wrote, “Having more confidence in ourselves is something I think we can definitely work on. It’s like what Coach Beckwith and our captain, Serena [Liu ’19], say: volleyball is as much a mental as it is a physical game.”
Andover will face Northfield Mount Hermon away on Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Sarah Chen ’21 is an Associate Digital Editor for The Phillipian.