by Laurence Feygin

The girls volleyball team is off to another strong start after beginning the season a month ago. Much of this success is attributed to the girls’ familiarity with the sport and with their teammates.

The team returns all six starters from last year and only lost two seniors from the year before. Overall, the there are thirteen returning players.

There are many benefits from all the returning players. Sophomore setter Sarah Lucenti said, “It is so awesome that we have all been able to play together for at least one year already. I think the unity we created last year will be the key factor to help us go all the way.”

Senior co-captains Zoe Hamilton and Corinne Hemmerbach, both first team all prep league players from last year, provide guidance for their teammates. Along with Hamilton and Hemmersbach, the team returns four four-year varsity players, including Cameron Longyear and Melissa Kohl, and three year varsity players like Ruby McFarland, Kristen Frerichs and Val Geiger.

Hemmersbach and Hamilton have taken the skills they have learned from past years to help lead their team.

“We have had great teams in the past but there have been obvious missteps. In my four years on varsity, though, this team by far has the best chemistry. We ain’t no nubes. We know what to do!” said Hemmersbach.

Everyone on the team hopes that they can improve from last year’s early quarterfinal exit in the playoffs against Gabrielino. Outside hitter McFarland said, “We were all so sad after last year’s loss. I hope we can win prep league and get some CIF bling to go on top of our beatdown city sundaes.”

Aside from the seniors, the team has some great young players. Junior Lizzie Yates and Sophomore Sarah Gurbach and the primary back row players, and Sophomore Abbey Holtz is the other starting outside hitter. Sophomores Lucenti and Emily Newton are getting experince at setter behind Hemmersbach.

The team is off to a great start this season. They have won all of their first eight matches, winning all of them in four games or less. Geiger said, “The fact that we can put in our less experienced players when we are up by a lot gives us a huge safety net. They will definitely help us as the season goes along “

They are not just beating schools of Chadwick’s size by those margins. In fact, they have dominated huge schools like El Segundo, North Torrance, and Torrance, as well as beating notorious volleyball schools like Santa Monica and Peninsula in the North High tournament. They came in a close second to Palos Verdes High School in the tournament. These victories have helped the team come close to becoming one of the top fifty teams in the state.

The biggest win of the year, however, was against their archrival Mayfield. The team has only won 3 of 21 games against Mayfield over the past three years, with no matches won, but Chadwick beat them 3-0 for their fifth win of the season. Longyear said, “A huge monkey was taken off of our backs after that win.”

The extra wins are not the only change this season. Kohl said, “We definitely bond more as a team. We hang out together all the time outside of school. It’s not only made us better friends but better teammates too.”

The big change this year though is the coach. Boys volleyball coach Michael Cass has stepped up to replace longtime girls coach Anita Drennen. Drennen has been out since the summer on medical leave for an undisclosed injury. It is reported that she could be back by the time CIF playoffs start.

Her absence is the team’s biggest inspiration to succeed this year. Senior Nicole Kelly said, “She’s done so much for us seniors over the past three years. We’re so sad that she’s not here for our final, and hopefully best year.”

The girls have not let the absence slow them down. Cass has led the girl’s to one of their best starts ever. However, they always keep Drennen in their minds. Before each game they write “AD” on their wrists to support their sick coach. Senior Nicole Stanton loves it because “it makes us never forget the person who got us this far in the first place.”

The team has only league teams left to play this year, and they have beaten all of them at least once already earlier in the season.

They hope that their experience, unity, and fun-loving spirits will help them get through the regular season and win for their ill coach.