Volleyball season opener signifies beginning of new sports season

McLean’s varsity volleyball team opens the fall season with high energy

McLean loses to Chantilly, three sets to none

Students flooded into McLean High on August 22 as the calendar transferred from the dog days of summer to the return of the school year. The shift back into first gear included the season debut of the varsity volleyball team, who faced off against the Chantilly Chargers to begin the year for the McLean athletics department. As the Chargers served the ball just over the cross-hatching fiber of the net, the year was underway.

The volleyball squad entered their first game with a new look, having lost four seniors who helped win the team their first Liberty District championship since 2001. Head coach Samantha Stewart was forced to make a few adjustments to fill some very large shoes.

The Highlanders began the game with high energy, running into team huddles with excitement after every point. Despite the team’s vitality, communication issues and simple mistakes compounded themselves, and McLean gave up multiple large runs during the set, including a demoralizing 8-0 streak for Chantilly which placed momentum firmly in the hands of the visiting side.

“We are using this game to work on our communication as a team, which is one of our toughest obstacles right now,” junior libero Caitlyn Lee said. “With more focus on working together cohesively as one team, we will definitely improve.”

Although the signs of rust that plagued the squad led to the eventual loss, there was still plenty to cheer for. Strong spikes from juniors Alice Holoubek and Adrienne Long as well as blocks from senior forward Zaylie Tamashiro made the constant stream of energy from everyone wearing a McLean jersey a fantastic experience for the players and fans alike.

“Even though it was the first game, we still played pretty well. It was a tough team, but we held in there,” Holoubek said. “We know that we can communicate more as a team and just work harder to get those aggressive balls in. I’m excited to see our new players shine on the court this season.”

The August evening was poised to also hold the inaugural game of the field hockey team’s season, but persistent showers and lightning in the area forced the officials to postpone the game against the Fairfax Lions to a later date. Despite the cancellation, the team is still looking ahead to the season.

“I’m excited to bond with my new team[mates] this year,” field hockey sophomore Ally Hodder said. “To prepare for the upcoming season, we have really broken down the sport and focused on the basics so that we have a good foundation to build off of.”