McLean and Langley had been rallying for almost a minute. The sound of shoes running to get the ball filled the gym. Parents cheered from the stands as the teams were encouraging each other on from the bench.
Neither team seems to be losing stamina. The score was close, 16-15 with McLean in the lead. Langley hit it over in what most people thought would end the rally. Freshman Hannah Soberman dove for the ball and got it into the air. One teammate set it, and then another got the kill. Rally over, point McLean.
Soberman was part of the undefeated freshman volleyball team, but this wasn’t nearly the beginning of her volleyball career. “Before I played volleyball, I was playing softball, but I wasn’t very good. My friend’s mom brought up the idea of playing rec volleyball to my mom, and that’s where it all started,” Soberman said.
Soberman has had the opportunity to play with some of the same girls for the past few years. One of those girls is freshman Linnea Abt. “Hannah and I have played together for three years on our travel team. She really is an amazing player because she’s super competitive and talented,” Abt said.
Soberman primarily plays as an outside hitter.
“I like playing outside hitter because of the feeling I get when I hit the ball, there’s really nothing like it,” Soberman said. “Especially when I get a kill, I feel really great. Knowing that I got a point for my team makes me more confident for the rest of the game.”
Freshman girls’ volleyball coach, Samantha Stewart, saw her talent throughout the season.
“Hannah is great at reading the other team’s offense to adjust her own defense and truly maximize her utility as a passer. Not many points were scored when she was playing defense,” Stewart said.
Before she could impress her coach during the season, Soberman had to make the team at tryouts over the summer.
“There was no air conditioning in the gym, and it was the middle of the summer. It was certainly less than an ideal situation for tryouts,” Soberman said.
Regardless of the condition of the gym, Soberman gave it her all for the three days of tryouts, and it paid off.
“We had to wait for the coaches to call us into the storage room they were sitting in so they could tell us their decision. I walked in and they told me that I had made the team. I honestly felt so relieved and excited for the season that was to come. I really believed in my teammates,” Soberman said.
Stewart also felt that she had a team that was destined for success.
“I knew a few of the girls from club volleyball and knew their potential as players; the rest of the girls really impressed me at tryouts. I even told them at our very first practice that they possessed the skill already and, as long as they did as I asked during the season, they could go undefeated,” Stewart said.
Soberman’s confidence in her team continued throughout the season, and she felt confident in their undefeated streak.
“I knew we had a team full of great players. There was only one set in our first game against Langley that we got a bit nervous, but we definitely came back from that,” Soberman said.
Soberman’s teammate Abt credits their success to the way the girls got along.
“The team worked together really well, and I think that’s why we remained undefeated,” Abt said.
Having this confidence in each other helped the team members form a strong bond with one another.
“I was with these girls five days a week for two hours, that’s not even counting games. It was hard not to form a connection with them. We would always get food before our away games, and we would braid our hair before every game. We even bought red and white headbands for our uniforms,” Soberman said.
Stewart also saw how the closeness the girls shared allowed them to become better as a team.
“Typically the first six to eight weeks of a freshman season are spent bonding with and understanding your teammates on and off the court. The fact that these girls already had these bonds meant they had a huge head start on their competition. We were able to fast track our practice plan complexity, which resulted in a true dominance in our conference,” Stewart said.
Volleyball hasn’t always been an easy option for Soberman. There was a time quite recently where she thought about not playing.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play club volleyball this year. I was thinking about trying out for winter track. At the end of the day, I ended up continuing to play, and I feel good with that decision,” Soberman said
Soberman is not 100 percent sure if she wants to continue playing volleyball.
“I know that I want to play for the next four years in high school for sure. I don’t know about after that, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Soberman said.
There’s no denying that volleyball has become a big part of her life, and Soberman is glad she started.
“I love volleyball that’s the reason why I’ve been playing for long,” Soberman said. “Volleyball is an amazing sport, and I am excited for it to be a part of my high school experience.”