Girls Varsity Volleyball Outlook

Birmingham%27s+volleyball+team+in+the+middle+of+a+play.

Elvia Esquivel (11)

Birmingham's volleyball team in the middle of a play.

Alyssa Macias, Website Editor

Anyone that has seen a volleyball game has seen how the players launch themselves to dig out the ball. Even though it looks like nothing but chaos, behind all those quick leaps are careful planning and precise technique. “It takes a lot of work, and you need a really good foundation to control the ball,” Symphony Marquez, grade 9, explains. She goes on to say that everyone labels volleyball as easy, when it is far from it. LeAnne Bennett-Riley, the girls’ volleyball coach, said “I feel like a lot of people feel like it’s a sport for girls or people that don’t really take sports seriously which isn’t true. I want to hear people say that after they get a ball spiked towards their face at 70 mph.”

The girls practice every day until 4:30 and the practice usually focuses on endurance. Bennett-Riley also pushes for the players to excel in both volleyball and as students. She believes that putting forth all their effort into practice will pay off on the court and prove to everyone including themselves, their coach, the other teams, and the audience that they can perform at high-caliber levels consistently. Since Bennett-Riley looks at coaching with a more caring perspective, she thinks of volleyball as a way to ensure all the girls know how to communicate properly with other people and to make sure they know right from wrong.

During tryouts, their skill levels are not the only thing being looked at. Bennett-Riley puts a large focus on how well they can bump and dig, how well they listen to instructions, and how quickly they can correct their errors. When the teams are practicing during summer, she makes sure to not separate them by skill level. They all do the same exercises together. For a lot of the team members, volleyball is a new sport for them. Before they can learn all the formations and personalized skills that volleyball demands, they have to learn the foundations such as passing and serving.

In the beginning, the dynamics were tense. The team had a difficult time talking to each other on the court and that affected how they played during the game. Since no one knew who was going after the ball, either no one tried to dig it out or everyone tried to bump it. After going through the intense practices together and overcoming their initial shyness, they started to spend their free time together on the weekend. “Communication is their strong suit. They’re always talking to each other on and off the court. They’ve greatly improved as a team,” Bennett-Riley says. In addition to working on how the team interacts, they are always striving to improve the techniques that are needed for volleyball. Bennett-Riley also believes that the girls really need to work on their focus. Since they are student athletes, she is pushing for them to stay focused both with volleyball and school.

It takes a lot to succeed in volleyball. Genesis Marquez, grade 12, explains that “How hard we work in practice reflects during the game so we should give 110% to win. Volleyball is a team sport, so you have to be a team player to do well.”  Marquez also says that you really do need to have a passion for the sport that you’re doing. In volleyball, you need to sacrifice your body for the game. While jumping after the ball is not done in a reckless way, it still takes a large toll on the body. Bennett-Riley says you need four key characteristics to be able to succeed in volleyball: dedication, focus, communication, and the ability to give 100% at all times.

Last year, volleyball only played during the regular season because they didn’t make it to the playoffs. The team is made up of very dedicated girls that are willing to give up anything to succeed. Recently, the team had an extremely long rally, which is the time between the serve and the end of the play that went well during a game. Bennett-Riley is extremely proud of the outcome and has high expectations for the girls.  Volleyball is a sport that makes sure to always keep the mentality of never giving up and keeping a level head, no matter what happens.