The 2021 varsity volleyball season was surely a rollercoaster of emotions for the players and coaches of Naples High. From summertime open gyms to regional semifinals, the team faced highs and lows while practicing and maintaining their core values throughout.
“I have strived to teach our five core values the most including ‘team first,’ class, discipline, relentlessness, and loyalty,” assistant coach Emily Hancock said.
Through the practice of said values, the girls managed to defeat teams including Lely, St. Petersburg, Port Charlotte, Estero, St. John Neumann and others.
“We practiced from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. everyday with games each week,” player Amy Boll said. “On some weekends, we would also have tournaments on Saturdays.”
With daily practices, heavy weight training and increased motivation, the girls prepared to face the toughest of teams, including Seacrest, First Baptist Academy, Gulf Coast and Barron Collier.
“Coach really kicked our butts in practices this year, making us run suicides every chance he got,” player Lily Purse said. “I have learned that even if things start off rough, you can always push through it and become greater.”
To function well as a team, the girls strived to bond both on and off the court. Outside of school, bonding activities are commonly done to bring teams closer.
“One time, we all went to make pottery and on bus rides we would be singing and talking together the whole time,” Boll said. “We became really close throughout the season and even though it’s over we’re still tight knit and constantly in touch.”
Oftentimes, the relationships between players are heavily reflected on the court through energy and passion.
“At the beginning of the season we lacked chemistry on the court, but it began to improve as the team got closer,” Purse said. “We practiced teamwork everyday, whether it be at practice, the games or seeing each other in school.”
During the district tournament, Naples faced off against St. Petersburg and claimed victory after five rigorous sets.
“The most memorable moment of this season has been beating St. Petersburg in the Regional Quarterfinals game. It felt really rewarding to see our hard work pay off and finally win a regional game for the first time in years,” Purse said. “The energy in that game was amazing, and everyone on the team played with so much passion. I’ve never seen coach so proud.”
The game against St. Petersburg was their last, and as many have stated, their best victory of the entire season.
“Everyone ran on to the court and jumped into a big huddle and everyone was cheering, yelling and crying,” Boll said. “It was such a great moment for our team. Everyone was so united and together at that moment.”
Following St. Petersburg, Naples played and fell to Barron Collier in the Regional Semifinals, marking the final game of the season.
“Winning isn’t everything. I was so proud of the girls for their little and big victories, beyond winning their games,” Hancock said. “The girls grew as individuals as well as a team this season, and that’s all I can ask for.”
With that, the 2021 volleyball season came to an end with a total of 16 overall wins.
“One thing I learned this season was the importance of having a positive attitude. Having that on the court is crucial in order to work together,” player Tamara Sanchez said. “All negativity did to our team was tear us apart and affect us in a bad way. Whenever we were positive and uplifting towards one another, there was always success.”