MS Volleyball Season Sparks Love for the Sport, Improves Players


Image Credit: Catherine Zidow

This year, the Middle School Volleyball Green and White teams had successful seasons and played hard, scoring a total of five hundred points. Sixty-four players enrolled in this season’s tryouts, more than the program has ever seen. At the end, only twenty-nine players spanning two teams were accepted into the program. 

Coach Catherine Zidow has coached the varsity team and all levels of club teams, but her favorite has always been middle school. She coordinates the Middle School program and is Head Coach for the Green team. “In all honesty, the big difference between the two teams is experience level,” she says. Zidow also adds that those on the Green team understand the game rules and functions better. She enjoyed coaching the team this season and hopes for good results next season as well.

The team practices four days a week, similar to varsity and club volleyball teams. The schedule is formulated specifically to prepare players for teams that offer opportunities later in the year. Zidow explains that the goal of Middle School volleyball is to help students enjoy the sport and pursue it after the school season. “We hope that people will fall in love with the sport by playing for the school and then pursue it outside of school.” To encourage students, the coaches promote bonding throughout the season, and the players make many new connections and friends. 

During the 2020-2021 school year, the team struggled with harsh COVID-19 restrictions that prevented a normal season. Zidow says that season was difficult in the midst of mask and social distancing policies. “That year, I had to track who was partners with who and who shared a ball with who,” she says. “It just sucked the fun out of volleyball.” Transitioning into this year, the team was able to have a normal season including regular match schedules and a mask-free environment. This freedom led the players to a great season.

The players enjoyed the season as well. 7th grader Ava Gillian appreciated the support each player offered and the encouragement of the coaches. “I loved being a part of the White team this year! Everyone was so supportive of one another,” she says. “My favorite part of this year’s season was playing in the championships! I will continue to play volleyball next year, and I will be doing club. Hopefully, I will make the Green team”. Gillian is excited about her improvement. “My goals this year were to be able to jump serve and hit properly. I have gotten really good at my hits, and I am still working on my jump serves,” she says. 8th grader Sophie Tong also had a great season. “I liked the tournaments and how we got to improve as a team.” She is planning to continue volleyball next year in the Upper School. 

Finally, 7th grader Sloan Lanham enjoyed the team bonding experiences, and she saw much improvement in her play as well. “I enjoyed the volleyball team. My favorite part was getting closer to my teammates. We made such great friendships this season,” she says. “I am playing for the M2 Volleyball Club this year, and I will try out for Westminster volleyball next year.” Lanham also noticed improvement in her play. “My goals were to become a better player and setter. I definitely became a better volleyball player, and I am so glad I was able to be on the team.” 

In conclusion, the volleyball teams had successful seasons. The coaches saw great improvement on the teams, and Zidow also saw positive changes in the players’ confidence and skills. “It’s crazy to see someone walk in the gym the first day and not know what’s going on, and then they leave after 8 weeks and they’re so confident,” she explains. “It’s just so fun to watch people fall in love with it, want to pursue it outside of school, and get to know people they didn’t know before. And those are friendships you can’t create in the classroom.”