After victorious matches at the Capitol Conference Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Champion, which took place Nov. 4, 6 and 7, the Jefferson varsity volleyball team placed first as the District champion. This feat marks the first time the team is qualified to advance to Regionals.
“I feel very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Regional tournament,” junior Amanda Nguyen, a co-captain, said. “Upon qualifying, we’ve made a name for Jefferson, which makes me proud that we’ve made history.”
In addition to making Regionals, Nguyen and junior Maria Velicu received first team All-Conference honors, while senior co-captain Care Shiobi and junior Melanie Piller received the honors for the second team. Velicu and Head Coach Helen Smith also received awards for Conference Player and Coach of Year.
“I was so honored and excited to receive that award,” Velicu said. “However, with that honor, came responsibility and a higher expectation to play at the top level during every game and lead my team with superiority and a competitive attitude going into finals and Regionals.”
Players believe that their success this season was due to starting their rigorous training earlier than previous seasons, even practicing on the weekends and working out in the weight room. In addition, the teams focused on conditioning and maintaining consistency on both offense and defense.
“Everyone has worked really hard this year. It hasn’t been easy, especially with nine juniors all with heavy workloads,” Piller said. “We started training before school ended last year, and everyone gave their all over the summer. We also practiced longer this year, doing more conditioning than we have in years past.”
Comprised of all juniors and seniors, players have been playing together for several years, which ultimately intensified the chemistry.
“Most of the team has been playing together for three years now,” junior Julia Dunbar said. “We know each others’ strengths and weaknesses.”
The bond between the members also strengthened outside of the court.
“We also improved our communication skills by having Monday meetings with our coaches, spending time with one another outside volleyball and expressing our thoughts and concerns openly if we had any,” senior Gloria Cho said.
Although Jefferson’s move to the Capitol district will cause the team to face new competitors, members plan to continue playing at their best.
“I myself don’t know a lot about the teams we’re going to play in Regionals, but we’re hoping to go as far as we can and hold ourselves to the standard we’ve been playing at the last week,” junior Alexis Gilmore said.
The Quarterfinals, Semifinal and Championship for Regionals will be held at the school that is seeded higher at each round on Nov. 12, 14 and 16.
“After winning the conference championships for the first time in school history, we’ve gained an ideal seeding for Regionals,” Piller said. “We’ll undoubtedly be facing more and more challenging teams from here on out, but our goal is to continue our winning streak all the way to States.”