Season Spiked for Now, But Girls Volleyball Stays Positive

Mia Pantano ('21), Orbit Contributor

The RMHS Girls Volleyball team is keeping their spirits up as they patiently wait for the arrival of their season that was pushed back to a later start date due to the MIAA’s modified plan to bring back athletics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every fall sport and activity at RMHS has been put in jeopardy due to the pandemic, and volleyball is no different. The MIAA and Middlesex League’s modifications to fall athletics included that volleyball be moved to a “Floating Season” or “Fall ll”, which is in between the winter and spring seasons from February 22nd to April 25th. The volleyball team is used to practicing throughout the late summer and fall, so their season being moved has been a significant change for them.

when I found out I was really upset, but I was also thankful that it was moved and not completely cancelled.

— Christina Sacco ('22)


However, they are not letting the pandemic impose on their new offseason; with the constant support of Coach Hopkinson, they are doing everything in their power to make the best of their situation and have been spending their time on improving their skills and connecting as a team, despite being limited by the pandemic. I talked to the senior captains and other team members about their feelings toward the season being moved and what they’ve been up to since the finalization of the MIAA’s athletic plan in September.

As any team would be, the volleyball team was devastated to find out that their season had been moved. The news took an emotional toll on the team, especially on the seniors and returners, but they have maintained a positive outlook on the near future of the volleyball season and are thankful that the result was not a complete cancellation. Senior Leah Puglielli recalls the moment when she realized that her season was being postponed: “I was very upset. Volleyball is something I look forward to all year. Not only the sport but having a so-called “family” to come to every day after school and play what I love.” Junior Christina Sacco recalls her moment of realization, saying, “I was out to coffee with my mom, and when I found out I was really upset, but I was also thankful that it was moved and not completely cancelled.”

We’ve been checking in with girls and encouraging them to try other things, play other sports, or try club volleyball

— Sophia McGonagle ('21)


COVID-19 has imposed an unbelievable amount of challenges on RMHS athletics, but the volleyball team has been adapting to the shift of their season and are putting in hard work in their time until February. Junior Lauren Fischer said, “I have been practicing at home with a ball and have been preparing with some girls on the team.” Junior Mary Duggan said, “We were able to do a clinic with the EVO League and play against a couple other towns as a team, which was a good way to get comfortable with each other on the court.” Sophomore Nicole Wilson added, I’ve done a few clinics at DIS that have given me practice time and have shown me what this season could look like.”

They have also found ways to keep each other uplifted in these uncertain times. On keeping their teammates engaged, senior captain Sophia McGonagle said, “We’ve been checking in with girls and encouraging them to try other things, play other sports, or try club volleyball.” Fellow senior captain Anica Chang added, “I like to keep in touch with the girls and we do volleyball camps. We also have traditions to make newcomers feel included.

The team credits their devotion to working on their skills to the constant encouragement of Coach Hopkinson. Sacco commented on Coach Hopkinson’s involvement saying, “Coach has handled the changes extremely well. She posts on Google Classroom and uses Teams Connect. Both these things, especially Google Classroom, really keep us involved and help me and make it still feel like a strong program. Also, she has made sure that we all know we’re a family, and that reminds of how much I love the sport and why I started playing in the first place.”  McGonagle added, “She checks in weekly to make sure we’re ok and set up a classroom page to give us positive messages and workouts to do.” The team feels incredibly thankful for her encouragement and that they would get through the difficulty of the changes to the season without her. 

Duggan also commented, saying, “She has been very communicative with us through our Google Classroom page, providing us with motivation to keep going outside, push through school work, and work not only on our physical health but our mental health too.” 

While the team is upset that they are not able to play volleyball right now, they are mostly understanding about the reasoning behind the changes. On the MIAA and Middlesex League’s decision, Chang said, “I think there were some ridiculous rules that were made, but we can’t do anything about it so we will work with what we got.” Sophomore Rylie Lane added, “Although it stinks, sports should not be getting priority because they are still trying to find a safe way to get us back into school.”

The team has managed to remain hopeful about their season beginning in February, and have found that the delay of their season has made for something to look forward to. Sophomore Abby Farrell said, “I’m hopeful for the season. I’m really excited and just want to be back in the gym playing and being with the girls again.” Senior Brooke Naczas added, “I am very hopeful because this is my last year, so I hope we have a season and if we don’t I will be disappointed.” Wilson also added, “I am hopeful that volleyball will resume, as long as everyone continues to follow the COVID restrictions and does the right thing. Getting everyone back into school is a step in the right direction and will hopefully result in us playing again soon.”

The Girls Volleyball team has definitely been given a substantial challenge this year due to COVID-19 with the postponement of their season, but they have remained engaged and optimistic that it will begin on February 22nd. While they are feeling disappointed, Coach Hopkinson and their positive team spirit will keep them strong throughout the winter.