By Grace Lee
Bump, set, and spike. Volleyball players repeat this routine every time they receive a ball from over the net. After an intense day of try-outs, Lauren Kim (11), Hannah Kim (10), and Sunhee Bae (10) were welcomed as new members of the varsity girls volleyball team. They have now joined the team effort in getting to the top. Although they may seem harmless at first sight, they transform into fierce, eager players on the volleyball court. By going after every single ball during the try-outs, the girls showed that they were ready to give their best shots on the volleyball court this season.
Lauren, the former co-captain of the junior varsity girls volleyball team, performs consistent accurate sets that belie her modest height of 5’ 2’’. A sports fan her entire life, she decided to pursue volleyball starting from sixth grade. On the first day of try-outs for middle school volleyball, she instantly fell in love with the dynamic plays of volleyball. It has now been more than five years since Lauren started volleyball, and she is thrilled to start a new chapter in her athletics career as a high school varsity volleyball player.
“When I found out that I made it to varsity this year, I was unbelievably happy, but a bit downhearted at the same time because I would no longer be able to play with my friends in junior varsity,” Lauren said. “However, I am excited to engage in more advanced set plays in varsity. My favorite part of volleyball is the relationships I am able to build within the team. It was very nerve-wracking to be a new junior on the team, but my worries disappeared after our first practice. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, a setter or a hitter, good or bad, nothing matters once you are part of the team. Everyone accepts you for who you are and is always so willing to help with anything. All the varsity players are so supportive and try their best to work with each other.”
Like Lauren, Sunhee discovered her passion for volleyball through the middle school volleyball program in sixth grade. Although she initially joined the program without much thought, the thrill of hitting the ball mid-air and watching it shoot down onto the court drew her to the sport, and that excitement still continues to captivate Sunhee today. Although she is the youngest player on the team, Sunhee is also the tallest player and uses her height to her advantage, spiking the ball from high above the net.
“I love the feeling of my spikes when they leave my hands and go directly down to the other side of the court,” Sunhee said. “Also, the self-satisfaction I receive from seeing my improvements over the years is very exciting. Although I lacked confidence to be entirely happy about making the varsity team at first, I was still really thrilled at the opportunity to play with upperclassmen. I could not believe it for a few days, since I never expected myself to become a varsity player. Now, I feel a greater responsibility to improve my skills.”
Because the varsity girls volleyball team placed second in the KAIAC Conference last season, the players are aiming for first this season. In the process of achieving this goal, the three new varsity players each have individual goals they are striving to reach this season. Lauren wants to test and improve her mentality while playing with the varsity team and be able to overcome mistakes with optimism. Sunhee also hopes to gain confidence by constantly reflecting on her plays and quickly recovering from mistakes. Lastly, Hannah is looking forward to improving her hits over the season. In the Korean Classic Pre-season Tournament on Aug. 27, these girls played on the court for the first time as varsity players.
“When Coach Miller called me over to put me in the game, my heart started beating so fast that my hands were shaking,” Hannah said. “But as soon as I stepped onto the court, all the other players encouraged and helped me so much that soon, the butterflies in my stomach disappeared. Although there were moments when I struggled, I made many strong serves and spikes overall. This tournament increased my excitement for the season even more, and I cannot wait to see how our season unfolds.”