Falling in three sets to Phillips Exeter Academy, Andover Volleyball suffered a 3-0 loss on Saturday, bringing the team’s record to 1-2. According to Co-Captain Caleb Blackburn-Johnson ’22, the team started off strong in the first set, but ultimately fell due to confidence issues.
Blackburn-Johnson said, “We started off really strong in the first set, it was 15-15 at one point. ‘A-Money Mitch’ had a few really good swings at the beginning, but they kind of pulled away in the first set and after that we started playing not as well, we got psyched out a little after losing the first set, but we started off really strong and it was super close throughout the whole first set.”
The previous weekend, Andover was able to take home a 3-0 win against Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMH). According to Henrique Chamon ’21, the team went into Saturday’s game overconfident, contributing to their loss.
“We had just come off the pretty easy win against NMH, so I feel like we weren’t trying as hard during practices as we could’ve been… Exeter definitely played better than they did last time, and I feel like we went in a bit too overconfident, based off their last performance, and we could’ve done a better job staying on top of things and being focused,” said Chamon.
Although they faced a loss, members of the team played well. According to Chamon, libero and Co-Captain Jerry Shu ’21 was able to restore the team’s confidence with a string of strong serves.
Chamon said “I think Jerry definitely did well, he’s our libero, and he’s always willing to sacrifice his body to get the ball, and in the second set we were down by a lot, and he was able to get a really nice roll of serves, and definitely got in their heads. Even though we still ended up losing the set, I think in terms of our mindset, it definitely helped us get back in the game since we hadn’t really been doing too well.”
Energy on the sidelines is vital to restoring on-court spirit. According to Wendy Wang ’24, cheering from the sidelines helps to motivate players on court.
“We are loud, the bench is really good at cheering and bringing the energy to the court, which is really helpful when players are feeling down,” said Wang.
With the transformation into an all-gender team, the girls on the team have improved the quality of play by giving their all at every practice, according to Chamon.
Chamon said “I think the girls are all amazing at volleyball, and they put 100 percent into every practice. I feel like there’s something that a lot of the guys, including me, can learn from them, like not slacking off. They give it all they’ve got during practice, and that is something the guys can learn from them.”
The addition of girls to the team has only enriched the already positive team culture, according to Blackburn-Johnson. The few underclassmen on the team have also been contributing to the good atmosphere.
“We have a really good team culture. We have team dinners every Friday, where Jerry leads us in meditation circles in the middle of team dinner, and I think that’s a great way to bond. On the bus rides, we have a few traditions, we like to sing a fight song on the way there, and everyone joins in. I think [the underclassmen are] some of the most important players on our team, they’re not just the youngest, but they’re some of the most important,” said Blackburn-Johnson.
The team looks to capture a victory away against Exeter next Saturday.