I’m sitting in the back, and they might as well be speaking Greek. I don’t know even the sports vocabulary of a spectator, much less a volleyball player. But the whole team is nodding, taking all the advice to heart 24 hours before their conference finals game against Chapel Hill High.
It’s understandable why they would care so much about that game, as it is wrapping up what has been an incredible season for Wildcat volleyball. Compared to last year’s team, who finished with a 15-12 record, so far East has only lost 4 games out of 27 played. Though unfortunately they lost against Chapel Hill, their chances in the playoffs were better than they had been in years.
Why the sudden improvement? For starters, head coach Kline is brand new to East, but coming in already well versed in coaching volleyball, after coaching at the college level as an assistant coach for the past two years.
With a change in leadership style and the current group of players, Kline says it’s no wonder they’ve done so well.
“We have a group of extremely hardworking girls, and they’ve bought into the new system I’ve put in place,” said Kline. “With energetic girls and an energetic coach, you can get to the place where we are today.”
That’s not just some random spiel- the team itself feels that way too. When asking Logan Pope, a senior and key player, how she feels this season has gone, she immediately breaks into a smile.
“Better than every season all four years, because we have a new coach, and our team chemistry is so much better.We’re all friends before teammates, which is really important.”
It’s an idea I hear over and over again, how close knit these girls are on and off the court. Junior Hailey Dodson firmly agrees with the importance of their relationship.
“We create a family,” said Dodson. “Even in the hallways we’re making jokes and saying hi. It’s the community we create.”
As a non-sporter, the friendship formed through sports has some appeal to me. But as Dodson explains the joy she feels “when you dive to the ground and get that perfect up and then the kill and the crowd’s going crazy and y’all are going crazy…” I’m back to hearing a language I don’t understand at all. I feel the passion and excitement sh
e feels for her sport, enough that I can’t help but wonder how fun it really is.
During a short break during practice, Pope takes a ball to show me some of the moves. Plays? Hits? Even now I don’t know the actual word.
“Setting” the ball, hitting it from above your head, goes surprisingly okay. I’m feeling pretty good about my skills, until I attempt to serve the ball. I hit it about four feet forward, at a sharp angle, not even over the net.
I’ll stick to writing confusedly about sports for now, and volleyball will still be giant tennis with more hand abuse.
By Julia Cummer, Sports Editor