Girls volleyball dive into playoffs with undefeated regular season

Hoban girls volleyball team plowed down the competition all throughout the regular season, culminating in a program sweep against CVCA on Oct. 14, advancing their record to 21-0. At the helm during this historic undefeated season is the head coach of two years, James Maloof ’89, and lone senior Sophia Day. 

Day eclipsed 1,000 career assists during this match, an impressive milestone for a high school volleyball setter. After moving positions across the court during previous seasons, reaching such a remarkable achievement meant a lot to her. 

“Reaching 1,000 assists on the last point of our regular season made it even more special, and it was a great way to close out our last game,” Day said. “However, I could not have done it without my team and coaches.”

Being the only senior on the team, Day has stepped into a leadership role for the Knights. 

“I enjoy it; I can take over and fire the girls up,” Day said. 

Junior Amber Watson feels no gap having only Day leading the team. 

“We all look up to her, and she leads the team well,” Watson said. 

With a schedule crammed full of worthy opponents, the Knights have had a unique challenge in each match. A move from Division II last year to Division I this year has placed them into the toughest bracket in all of Ohio. However, this has not fazed Maloof.

“We’ll have to play these teams anyway if we’re going to win the state championship, so it doesn’t matter when we play them,” Maloof said. 

Watson agrees, remarking that playing some of the most challenging teams in the state gave them momentum to ride for the rest of regular season play. 

This positive attitude began over the summer when the team first got together for scrimmages and practices. Both Maloof and the players immediately felt the chemistry. Maloof watched all the pieces slowly fall into place over the off-season but truly knew the team had something special after seeing how the student-athletes grew into their roles on the court. The whole squad connected as a unit on the court, and as practices continued, the setters and hitters found their groove, contributing to the great successes this year. During practices, Maloof focuses on making the girls well-rounded players.

“The biggest emphasis is on trying to build the volleyball IQ of the players and help them develop in every part of the game, not just their specialty,” Maloof said. “The girls can work their blocking by doing competitive six-on-six drills, which has been highly beneficial for tough matches.”

Not only does hard work on the court bring success, but also bonding outside of games. The group of girls is exceptionally tight-knit this year. Day described how everyone supports each other and trusts in high-pressure situations, making playing together easy. 

“We truly are all sisters,” Day said. 

“We always say ‘we over me,’” Watson said when asked about the family atmosphere built by the team. 

The ultimate goal for the team is to make it to the end and bring home a state championship to the Castle. With all the hard work and dedication the girls have put into the season, there is no doubt they will excel in the playoffs. The Knights' next game is at Hoban on Saturday, Oct. 21 when they will compete against Shaker Heights.

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By: Senior Leah Dragmen