Andover Volleyball again fell to Phillips Exeter Academy in three straight sets, bringing the team’s record to 1-3 as it heads into its last game of the season. Although it suffered a loss, the team played competitively, according to Henrique Chamon ’21.
Chamon said, “In the third set, we were actually up by a lot, it was 7-3 at one point, and then we had the lead up to 10-8, but we were winning the third set for most of the beginning, and then we lost it, but I think having that energy, that confidence, made us play better. Zane was able to get in a nice roll of aces, which helped our confidence, and that was the main thing, when we were more confident in ourselves, we were playing better.”
After a loss in the first set, the team regrouped by focusing on having fun to better its play, according to Sophie Watson ’22.
“I think each of our games has been kind of off and on between sets, especially with Exeter when we get ahead. We had a pep talk with our coach after the first set, and [he said] instead of playing to win, just play to have fun because when our team does play to have fun and we’re not so caught up on the score, we end up playing a lot better, and everyone’s just a lot more communicative, and I think that’s how it should be,” said Watson.
While the team focused on enjoying itself on the court, Andover did not experience a lack of effort or skill during the competition, according to Co-Captain Jerry Shu ’21.
Shu said, “Wendy had this massive hit, she jumped like eleven feet and hit it absolutely into the middle of the court, and I’m pretty sure left a dent there, and the other team was in shock. Henny served about six serves in a row, all aces. When we feed the ball to Henny, when he’s in the middle, he takes out all of their faces.”
According to Watson, the team looks to work on its mental game and technique during practice this week in preparation for this Saturday’s game against Exeter.
“Especially at Andover, I feel like the entirety of our lives here is about stress, so our coaches do a great job to alleviate that, and when we do have fun on the court, everyone swings harder… I think especially against Exeter, they have really strong hitters this year, and we have [Caleb Blackburn-Johnson ’22,] but all of our front row hitters have really strong swings, but if we do start to get down a bit on points, we tend to start swinging a bit less and tipping more, so just continuing to play hard and not worrying about hitting it into the net, just keep on swinging,” said Watson.
In preparation for its final two games against Exeter this upcoming Saturday, Andover looks to eliminate small errors in its play, but doesn’t have any major weaknesses, according to Chamon.
Chamon said, “I don’t think we have any big weaknesses, it was just a lot of small errors, which are easy to work on, and because Exeter is a good team, it’s not like we let them get away with playing badly, they played well, we just need to match that energy when we play them next… I think the main thing to focus on is breaking small bad habits.”
While Andover knows that Exeter will again be a difficult opponent, playing in front of a home crowd this weekend will increase the spirit on court, according to Sam Rodgers ’23 and Chamon.
“I don’t think anyone’s expecting us to beat Exeter this weekend, but at least maybe get a closer game, because we played them the first time like here a couple weeks ago, we did take a set. So, I mean I guess that’s probably the goal, like take a set, I mean we would love to obviously win, but just keep the intensity up, don’t kind of relax because it’s the last week, and just do our thing,” said Rodgers.
Chamon said, “Moving into the final game, it’s gonna be at home, so we’ll have a lot more energy going into it, and we will be more confident in ourselves.”
The team looks to capture a victory in its last games against Exeter at home this Saturday.