Hammond Volleyball’s Fun & Intense Season

By Joseph Lee

Backpage Editor

Image source: Jariah Nash

“All Ace! Whoosh!”

The team cheers and can soon be heard again as their words are echoed by the crowd. An “all ace” is when someone serves the ball and the opposing team can’t pass it, giving the server’s team the point. 

Hammond is playing their 5th set, the first and only time they’ve done it this season against Marriotts Ridge. This was their second game against the Mustangs, so after their first loss, it was a surprising turn of events. Even though they still lost the second game, it was close and a great moment for the team. 

Erin Peters, a senior player, commented on what happened afterward. “Even though we lost, the coach complimented us [on] how we’ve gotten so much better over the years which made it all the better.” 

Coach Corey even mentioned that, “The girls played, at that point, the best game they played all season.”

They were neck and neck and you could tell both teams were evenly matched. This game anticipated what was to come: intense and well-played games. 

The season before play-offs continued with 4 wins and 10 losses. This meant Hammond’s varsity volleyball team was 9th in their league standing. Last season, in the spring, they tried to play around COVID-19 and ended up with about 8 games in total. 

Jenna Kreh, a senior captain, commented, “I think this season was different from years past because we only have a few seniors, so this is the first year on varsity for many of the players. We also had not seen the court in a while due to COVID. This may have made for a slower start, but it left more room for improvement, and the difference between our first and last games was truly incredible.”

Coach Corey made it a goal to bring back a sense of “normalcy” as she also noticed the potentially difficult transition from the spring to fall season.

“I think the biggest overarching goal in general for us was to try to get back to some sense of normalcy. We had a funky season in the spring. We were lucky to get a season but it wasn’t the same as what it is normally. Which is what we had now despite the masks. Everything seemed back to normal so I wanted to bring everyone back to that feeling of it’s not a loss, it’s not all gone. We can get back to the way things were before the pandemic,” she commented.

Another goal Coach Corey had involved wanting to see the captains, Safi Hampton (11th), Rylal Koroma (12th), and Jenna Kreh (12th) grow in their leadership positions. And it was another goal met as Hannah Chambers, a junior player, mentioned how they have been her MVP’S this season. 

She said, “Jenna is the reason we get points, she sets us up for them and is always hustling as the setter. Even though Rylal had to play out, she keeps watch on our games and helps give up tips and pointers like where to serve, what to do, and what we’re doing wrong. Safi is our best offensive player and a leader off or on the court.”

She even mentions Rylal again, saying how good she is and that it even becomes a source of inspiration for her. This is why it was a shock when she got her ACL torn during the River Hill game doing what she was known for, blocking. Rylal was the main middle blocker for the team, so when Hannah heard that she had to replace her when she usually plays right-side defense, she was taken aback. 

Hannah commented, “I get a lot more playing time now that Rylal is injured which is a blessing and a curse since I have a lot of responsibility now. Everything is faster in this position but I really do miss playing with Rylal. Seeing her thrive as a good player hyped me up. Every time she got a kill or got a good block, I was always jumping and screaming on the bench.”

Even though Rylal had to play out, she still got to show her skills during their senior night against Wilde Lake. She served, got an ace, and even played a little in the back row. It was amazing to see her determination and prowess shine through her ACL tear. 

Even with talent like that gone, Hannah was still able to hold her own. Her first game as the new middle against Oakland Mills hyped her team, the coach, and our school up. Hannah humbly mentions how she was able to get a couple of blocks in, but the junior captain, Safi Hampton,  explained how, “she’s a great blocker and can just shove people down over and over again.”

As they cheer for her, giving high fives, with excitement in the air, you can tell they have all bonded well as a team and as friends too. Not only did they do well on the court, but a lot of them mentioned how fun it was outside of the court.

As they hang out 6-7 days a week and even see each other in school, they all got way closer than expected. The fun moments and games for the players also matched the overall consensus they felt about the season. Feeling like a movie, having fun, and being dynamic. 

As the Lady Bears continue playing in play-offs, Coach Corey wanted to add that, “Overall I am very proud of our athletes. I always want the girls to know and understand that this is about their success and their growth and that the three coaches have their backs in and outside of the classroom and we want them to be successful student-athletes. Just know that we’re proud of them for all their hard work even if the games have not always gone in our favor, we are just as excited to get back in the gym the next day and keep working hard towards our goal.”