Greens Farms Academy volleyball coach Paul Groves will be the first to admit volleyball can be played outside — on the beach, in the backyard during a family barbeque, at the local park, amongst friends.
But a varsity sport in the left field of a softball field? That’s another story. Although in the COVID-wracked fall of 2020, the Dragons program did what it had to do to play.
Now, the team is heading back to the Coyle Gymnasium, albeit still with facemasks, for as regular a regular season you can have during a still-continuing global pandemic.
“Everybody feels great,” Groves said about the move back indoors. “We’re the only athletes wearing masks, but I haven’t heard one complaint. They just want to play volleyball indoors, like we’re supposed to.”
Groves admitted that last year’s outdoor season helped ready a lot of players stepping up to varsity play for the first time and that should pay off this year.
“I think this year we have a lot of talent, but it’s talent that hasn’t played a major role on varsity,” Groves said. “We’re going to be a team that beats come tournament time. We’ve discussed that.”
Groves feels GFA’s strength will be in the backline, where his defense will be able to get the ball to senior setter Liza Dowling — one of the players who benefited the most from last year’s campaign as she was replacing five-year starter Meg Nesi.
“She has some great experience last year being outdoors, instead of coming in right away and having that kind of pressure,” Groves said.
In that back row, looking to get the ball to Dowling, are a bevy of seniors, including Avery Woodworth, Kavya Krishnamurty, and Alex Agah and juniors Lily Lind and libero Annie Dizon.
“Our backline will get the ball to our setter,” Groves said. “Then we just have to get kills.”
The player who will get an opportunity for those kills is sophomore Devin McCormack, who is jumping higher than ever and hitting the ball with a lot more confidence and force.
“This year, she’s really dominating at the net,” Groves said. “She put in a ton of time and I’d say she has elevated her game. She’s even jumping higher and getting contact two feet above the net.”
Senior Madison Gordon and junior Molly Duffy will play key roles upfront in terms of middle blocking roles, and two eighth-graders — Eliza Legnani and Kate Ewing — appear poised enough to play roles on the outside, too.
Seniors Alicja Farber and Olivia Sproule join junior Emily Walsh and sophomore Ava Powell as players coming off the bench to provide depth.
“We want to grab some wins early because we can,” Groves said. “Our lead people are solid and those in supporting roles are going to get better and better and that’s a huge upside. It’s going to be a tough league, but we’ll be fun. We’ll look to make our impact late.”
GFA VOLLEYBALL VARSITY ROSTER
GFA VOLLEYBALL VARSITY ROSTER
SENIORS--Alex Agah, Liza Dowling, Alicja Farber, Madison Gordon, Kavya Krishnamurthy, Olivia Sproule, Avery Woodworth
JUNIORS--Annie Dizon, Molly Duffy, Lily Lind, Emily Walsh
SOPHOMORES--Devin McCormack, Ava Powell
EIGHTH GRADERS--Kate Ewing, Eliza Legnani.