The coed volleyball team has an indisputable record of success, having played for a County Championship each of the last 10 years and winning eight out of those times. This season should be no exception with many of the Maryland 4A girls’ volleyball State Champions on the team. Not all of the girls on the fall roster made the transition over to coed, but every girl on the coed team played in the fall for the undefeated State Champs.
After already playing a season together, the girls bring a familiarity with each other to the coed squad and also help the boys further develop their volleyball skills and understanding.
“My girls are my volleyball players, my boys are just athletes who play volleyball. We get girls who do all the grunt work; they always carry us mainly because they have their own season,” said coach Pete Siarkas.
Although team stats show that the guys have a better hitting and kill percentage than the girls, a good pass in volleyball is crucial to set up an offense so the front row can hit the kill. The girls have the high passing percentages, and the top three passers on the team are senior Meredith Russell with 1.000, junior Megan Hewitt with .930 and senior Erin Brady with .900, as compared to the top three boy passers who are senior Luis Ortiz with .710, junior Sergio Navarrete with .670 and senior Nick Todd with .640.
“Although it is still competitive, coed is a lot more laid back and fun. Having girls and guys mixed gives it a more relaxed feeling, so we have a good time. Also, having girls that play club volleyball and who are State Champions helps us improve our game,” said Ortiz.
The girls find that playing with the boys also raises their own game. “They challenge us because they hit harder, so our passes have to be better. And since they put up a bigger block, it helps us cover better and learn to hit around a huge block,” said junior setter Melody Young.
While there are many similarities between girls’ and coed volleyball, adjustments have had to be made to the rules for coed. For example, the rotation on the court has to alternate between boys and girls. A girl must touch the ball as one of the two or three hits that take place before the ball goes over the net. Also, when there are two girls in the front row, a boy can move up from the back row to block, but cannot make an offensive play. Because there are boys and girls playing, the net is also raised eight inches. “It is definitely a disadvantage for girl hitters because of the change in net height,” said Hewitt.
There are other differences between the two seasons. Because coed is played with girls and there must be three girls and three guys on the court at all times, playing time is limited. Also, there are not many other schools that have coed volleyball teams, so the squad plays the same schools every year.
After going undefeated in the fall and defeating Thomas Johnson, from Anne Arundel county to win the 4A State Title, the girls are continuing their unbeaten streak thus far in coed, beating in straight sets Watkins Mill, Paint Branch, Springbrook, Blake, Whitman, Blair, B-CC and Magruder. They will come back from spring break and face rival Damascus before finishing off their regular season against Quince Orchard, Churchill and Kennedy.