Served with a Setback


by Julia Lee, Sports Editor

photo by Eleanor Bacon

Crushing school records and dominating the Massachusetts Division One Athletic Conference, last season’s girls’ volleyball team made it to the semi-finals of the 2022 state tournament and ended with an astonishing 17-3 record. 

Their starting lineup was full of talent, and the talent coming off the bench made the team a formidable force. However, as the fall season nears, the team must deal with a setback: the loss of eight players from their lineup of 14. 

Former senior captain Tia Russell said that the number of starters and talent leaving will prove to be an obstacle this season. Russell was a starting middle blocker and, in 2022, was awarded the title of a Boston Globe all-scholastic player. 

“We lost some crucial positions which leaves a lot of incoming juniors and sophomores wondering where they’re going to end up on the court,” she said. “People are going to have to learn new positions and train a lot harder than they had to in past years.”

Sophomore varsity player Giani Boerner said that the seniors’ departure will greatly impact the team’s style of play, as well as the team’s coordination. 

“We will be impacted by the leave of some of our starters because we didn’t fully appreciate the little things they did to fill gaps in our playing and cheering,” she said.

“The dynamic and style of our playing might start off slower because of the many positions that need to be filled, and the new and old players must learn how to work together.”

Seniors aren’t the only vital players the team will be losing, Russell said.

“We lost our main libero Anna Silva, who was a freshman, and filling that role after the amazing performance she left last year is going to be tough,” she said. 

Silva, the starting libero, was the player to watch as a freshman who dominated the court. After one year of playing for South, Silva will not be returning as she moved to Brazil at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. 

Junior Ally Chen is a frequent member of the volleyball student section and said Silva captivated the audience’s attention. 

“Anna’s dedication to every ball often has her flying across the floor and students holding their breath,” she said. “Her drive and skill make her the player to watch on the court, and she’s such an inspirational athlete.”

As the search for new talent and starters begins, dedication like Silva’s will be a major factor. Silva said that mentality alongside skill is critical in a teammate.  

“Starters definitely must have positive energy and be loud and uplifting to their teammates,” she said. “Even if you’re on the bench, you must help the team out and be confident in yourself. Don’t let the student section bring you down, just focus on the play.”

Since starters are put under pressure, Russell said that they must be resilient and positive. 

“You need to want every point and every game. Giving up because we lost a set or a few points is absolutely not an option,” she said. 

“Mindset comes before skill. You can be an amazing player but if you get down on yourself, get mad at others or anything else negative, you aren’t getting that starting spot.”

Although players will have to learn new positions and put in the extra work, Russell has faith and confidence that this will be an electric season, with players from the bench stepping into major roles, and new players making waves. 

“I wish the girls the absolute best of luck, and I really hope they work hard while having fun and bring Newton South to the championship this year because I truly believe they can do it,” she said.

The new generation of volleyball players must learn how to adapt to the new team dynamic, as Boerner said that much of the credit for the team’s record was due to the seniors. 

“We were so successful last season because our senior captains helped lead and connect us so that we could play together as a team,” Boerner said. “A key factor in our success was definitely teamwork, but also our sheer determination to win.”

One of the four new captains, senior Hannah Lim said that respect will be an essential principle for the team. 

“It’s so important that this season we respect the new and old teammates, and support them through the whole learning process. The team dynamic will most definitely be different, but different is never a bad thing,” she said. 

This season, the entire program must support one another to offset the large gap that the class of 2023 is leaving behind. 

“No player should doubt themselves, as everyone will make mistakes along the way,” Lim said. “I hope to have the freshman, JV and varsity teams support each other because in the end, we are one program.”

Senior captain Sasha Vorobyov plans to bring energy and positivity to the community. Though the departing seniors leave behind a void, Vorobyov is just as hopeful about the upcoming fall.  

“We’re losing some big players, but we also have incredible players returning, and others who we’ve seen at captains’ practice,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to be unsuccessful next year. We’re definitely going to have a great season and a lot of fun.”

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