Girls Volleyball puts up a fight in Florida

The girls headed to Florida before the start of school to practice against competitive teams from around the country


Photo courtesy of RVRHS Athletics

The JV team on day 1 of the tournament in Florida

Lillian Drueding, Managing Editor

Just a week into their preseason, the Rancocas Valley Girls Volleyball Team went to Florida for a tournament. The team travelled from September 1-4, right in time for the start to school.

The tournament is an opportunity with KSA, the Kaylee Scholarship Association, which is the “the largest high school sporting events company in the nation,” according to volleyball coach Mrs. Soares. “Participating teams come from across all 50 states. We were the only ones in New Jersey. There was one from Pennsylvania, a majority are from down south — Texas, Georgia — because they’ll be already in season.”

This year is RV’s fourth year doing the tournament, which has been biannual excluding 2021 due to COVID-19. The tournament brought about 21 girls, from both JV and varsity teams. Since cuts had been made not long before, and because of the timing of the season, RV was unable to be seeded in the tournament. Instead, the girls used this as an opportunity to gain experience before the official start of the season.

Soares said the tournament provides a chance to “strengthen the skills of our players while forming a lifelong bonding experience.” While players work on their volleyball skills within their games, all of their other time is spent bonding with each other—that’s what happens when you share a hotel room.

“We were able to talk to people who we would not have talked to otherwise, people we never talked to really before,” senior player Marissa Schmidt said. “We got to see a new side of people by… just relaxing without the stress of school or worrying about making the team or clubs or extra things stressing on them. And everyone’s there for each other during that time. Even when we had our problems we worked through them in a way that brought us closer together.”

The trip to Florida also helps to prepare players who want to continue their volleyball career in a college division. 

“It’s a way to give the girls the experience for college: learning to get on a bus, go to a tournament, come back, [and] be away from home,” said Varsity head coach Mr. Collings. “That’s what the college experience is kind of like.”

The competition they faced was not easy—the JV record was 4-3, and the varsity record was 0-6. These teams from out of state have been practicing longer than Rancocas Valley, but playing them prepares for the level of competition they have begun to face within the first weeks of the season.

“You’re playing teams [who] been practicing for two-three weeks longer than we have so we’re a little bit behind the schedule, especially since this year they put us a week later before we could start practicing,” Collings said.

“Going into Florida with only a week of preseason, everyone [was] very nervous about what was going to happen because we knew the teams were going to be months more prepared than we were, have taller girls, [and] stronger hitters,” Schmidt said. “We needed to play a mental game and the goal of the trip was to see our mental toughness”

Developing mental toughness is not easy.

“Even though we lost one of our starter players on an injury and we still have a few kinks to work out, I think that the trip brought us a lot closer together and we brought back with us a stronger passion and determination for wanting to succeed,” said Schmidt. “I feel that it brought a new level of grit to the game.”

This grit and mental toughness translated onto the field with their first game September 8 resulting in a 2-1 win against Moorestown. With games piled back to back this week, the girls have a tough time ahead of them, but after the fight they put up in Florida, they are ready for it.