BY JAYDEN JUNAID AND SALOME KHORAVA
Following a 2-0 victory over Iselin-Kennedy Wednesday, the girls varsity volleyball team remains undefeated through 11 games this season. In fact, the team has yet to lose a single set, defeating each opponent 2-0.
The hot start even exceeds the expectations of coach Andrew Hopman, who has led the boys and girls volleyball squads to numerous championships. “I’m really proud of my girls so far,” Hopman divulged. “We just take it one game at a time.”
After a few down years, the team improved to 19-8 last year, setting the stage for continued growth this season. “Last year, we struggled a little bit at first, but then we started winning, and this year, straight off the bat, we were winning,” explained junior Julia Mikucki, who leads the team with 185 assists..
The team’s seniors, including captains Jenna Ferro, Malvina Sullivan, and Leena Tran, have provided the veteran leadership that all winning teams need. “It’s a great feeling being a part of leading such an amazing and successful team,” shared Ferro. “I love the constant positivity and high energy everyone always brings.”
The team enters every game with positivity and pride. “I aim to have positive relationships with my teammates, to work hard under pressure, and to step up when my team needs me,” said Tran. “Being a leader is one of the things I love most about playing a sport.”
That leadership, under the guidance of coach Hopman, ensures the team is always prepared. “Before the start of every match the starting players meet in the middle of the court, and we discuss our game plan. It brings me joy to see how close we all are as a family,” said Julia Mikucki.
Senior year can be bitter sweet for many athletes who have to learn to enjoy their time on the court with the knowledge their time with this group of teammates will soon come to an end. “I am making the best out of it and I’m trying not to rush every moment,” said Sullivan, who has scored 59 kills so far this season.
For the moment, Sullivan remains focused on making the most of every opportunity in front of her. She shared, “I believe we are going to go far this year and I’m really excited to see where we go.”
Although the hot start is impressive, the players have even loftier goals in their sights. “Our main goal is to win GMCs this season, for it has been several years since OB girls volleyball has last won,” said Julia Mikucki. “We struggled against some opponents last season; we strive to beat them this year.”
This weekend will serve as a test of how far the team has come as they take on Colonia today on the road at 5:15pm before facing off against rival East Brunswick at 11:00am Saturday at East Brunswick. The Bears handed the Knights four of their eight losses last season, including knocking them out of the GMC and state tournaments.
As always, the team is positive heading into the upcoming matchups. “I feel confident and ready to rise up to the challenge,” said Ferro. “I know our team is going to do something special this season.”
Posted on 10/7/22
Photos by Jayden Junaid and Salome Khorava