After last year’s state championship and a 16-0 undefeated season, everybody’s going into this year’s girls’ volleyball championship with the same question: Can the girls pull it off again?
The Oyster River High School (ORHS) girls’ varsity volleyball team will face rival Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (13-3) in the Division II NHIAA Volleyball State Championship at noon this Saturday, November 4th, at Pinkerton Academy. As the girls await what they believe will be their most challenging game yet, the team’s seniors reflect on how they’ve prepared to defend their championship title, and what they’ll miss most once it’s all over.
“We have a game plan. We’ve practiced all week, we’ve watched tape, and we’ve gotten to know Coe-Brown and how they play pretty well this season. Really, we’ve been preparing for this all year, and I hope it’ll show,” says the team’s Co-Captain, Annabelle Svenson (‘24).
In volleyball, the first team to get 25 points wins a set. The first team to win three sets wins the game.
Svenson said she’s most nervous to play Coe-Brown because, unlike the ORHS girls, Coe-Brown has experienced the physical and emotional toll of “going five.” That is, playing the fifth and final set in a game after both teams have won two.
So far, the ORHS girls have only played up to four sets.
The first time the girls played Coe-Brown was earlier in the season, and “the closest game we’ve played all year,” Svenson said. She noted that the second time ORHS played them, “they were down their star player, so that’s not really a good measurement of their playing.”
She continued: “That’s why we need to be emotionally prepared for a long game; we know what Coe-Brown’s capable of, and we haven’t really been dealing with that level of playing yet this season.”
Senior Emy Przybylski agrees, explaining how the physical preparation is important, but that it’s all going to come down to the team’s ability to handle the stress and emotions of such a high-stakes game.
“I think our team, as a whole, kind of gets down on themselves when we start to consistently make a couple of mistakes. So, for me, I like to take myself and become that person of positivity, so we don’t fall into that and let it mess up our chances at winning,” says Przybylski.
For her, “maintaining a positive attitude after mistakes” is just as important, if not more, than playing perfectly.
Like Svenson and Przybylski, Co-Captain Emilia Cavicchi (‘24) is feeling the pre-game nerves but is trying to block out any external pressure.
“We’re undefeated, and we want to protect that because we’ve worked so hard for it; we want to keep our perfect season going,” she said. But, Cavicchi also said she doesn’t want her last high school volleyball game to be nothing but nerves and stress, so she’s trying to key in on her excitement.
“I’m excited for a challenge, and this is my final game in high school, and I want to enjoy it,” Cavicchi said.
She continued: “Thinking about it’s sad because school volleyball is something I’ve been doing for four years. Especially because it’s a fall sport and was the first thing I played coming into freshman year. It shaped my high school path for me.”
Przybylski also plans to revel in the excitement of her last high school game alongside “a team she’s come to love.”
“Win or lose, this game, and the fact that we got to the championship undefeated, will always be really special to me,” Przybylski said. “But, of course, winning would be nice.”
Svenson wants to win not only so the girls can defend their title, but so her coach will take her and her teammates out to a promised celebratory feast.
“In season, our coach is protective over what we’re drinking and eating to make sure we’re fueling our bodies correctly. But [our coach] said, ‘You win, you have your undefeated season, I’m taking you out.’”
“So, let’s hope we win this one!” Svenson continued.
If you want to cheer on the girls, come to Pinkerton Academy at noon on Saturday, Nov. 4th. The theme is blackout, so don’t forget to come decked out in your finest black attire!
Images Courtesy of Lily Fitzgerald (Instagram: @flicks.lil)
Headline Courtesy of Annabelle Svenson