In the spring of 2016, an eager group of upperclassmen formed PCD's first Girls' Varsity Volleyball team. With some brand new to the sport and others simply beginners, the young team faced a hard-fought opening season in an increasingly competitive division, says Coach Brad Clarkson. "The first year, we lost every single match."
Four years later, the Girls' Varsity Volleyball team is now competing in their first playoff run, a feat Clarkson credits to the team's growth, hard work, and perseverance year over year. Captains Juli Dick '20 and Hope Laiter '20 have been with the team all four years. Both of which have grown from amateur to competitive athletes by competing in offseason collegiate camps and clinics that include a beach volleyball league. In 2018, Laiter was named to the RIIL All-Division team.
On top of mastering their technique and skill, the team has also grown in smarts and strategy. Coach Clarkson says this is the first year that the team has been able to create and execute specialized game plans by studying opponents and leveraging the individual talents of the team. This season, Ava Kooloian '21 has taken on a new role as a right-side hitter, which slows her to block attacks from the opponents' strong side hitters. Jillian Archer '21 and Allison Rivard '21 lead the team as powerful servers, and newcomer Ama Koran '23 has joined Morgan Rivard '21 to deliver critical defensive plays blocking forceful attacks each game. Clarkson says, more than anything, it's the team's focus and determination that has led to their first postseason appearance. "We tell the girls; it doesn't matter what happened prior to that moment in the game. Forget it and move on," he says. "When things aren't going our way, we need to find a way to turn it around and change the momentum." From winless to postseason contenders in four years, the team has proven their ability to do just that.
Though the postseason spot is a historic milestone for the team, their job is not yet done. The girls held daily practices this week in preparation for the Quarterfinals match in Pawtucket at St. Raphael Academy on Saturday, November 9, at noon, and are eager to play their best. "Regardless of Saturday's outcome, we couldn't be more proud of each member in the whole program," adds Clarkson.