Andover Girls Volleyball seeks to replicate last year’s success over Phillips Exeter Academy this weekend. Heading into Andover/Exeter Weekend, Andover holds a 13-3 season record, while Exeter’s record stands at an undefeated 14-0.
“Historically, Exeter has been a really strong team. I think last year was the first time we won in at least 5 or 6 years, which was very exciting to take that home… They are a good team but we could’ve reduced a lot of our errors, and going into Saturday, we are making sure to work on our reaction time and just have a game plan set in motion so we can better react to our teammates and support them by working off of each other’s mistakes,” said Adaeze Izuegbunam ’20.
The team faced Exeter previously this season, losing 1-3 (12-25, 22-25, 25-14, 18-25). According to Captain Chioma Ugwonali ’20, the October matchup allowed the team to gain important knowledge and statistics to better prepare for this weekend.
Ugwonali said, “We know they have a really strong offense especially on the outside, which we have learned from our past meeting with them, so we have been planning how to take on Exeter based on what we learned and have started adapting our plays to their hitting. I think that Exeter really knows how to get on a roll if we let them, and they are great at keeping their energy, so it will be a challenge for us to stay in the game, stay on our toes, and really try to anticipate every ball. Defense is an area where we are going to need to solidify this week for sure.”
According to Ugwonali and Izuegbunam, Andover/Exeter brings out a special energy between both teams that allows for a highly competitive and fun match for both sides.
“I love the crowds at A/E because every year I’ve noticed we play better when there’s a really competitive, loud, rowdy crowd. Even if we are away and only the home team’s crowd is there, we still feed off of that energy and that competitiveness so we play our hardest on the court… Knowing that we have played them before, and we lost, we want that much more to win this game especially to secure our seeding for Nepsacs. This is the last game of our regular season, so we are going to leave everything on the court and go our hardest,” said Ugwonali.
Izuegbunam added, “I think for one, it is really cool to have a game where the stands are packed even though one side is full of fans for you and one is against. I also think it is interesting because volleyball is such a mental game, the fans can really affect the mentality of the players on the court in terms of how resilient we are or aren’t.”
Andover will travel to Exeter for an 11:00 a.m. game this Saturday.