“Win as One”: A Spotlight on MC’s Senior Volleyball Players

Alison Schultz '17, Writer

With such great talent on our women’s varsity volleyball team, a squad that capped a 26-10 season last year with an NCS Division IV title, it’s hard to believe that the senior members haven’t always been varsity stars. We at The Roar had the chance to speak with Bridget Halligan, Carol Raffety, Grace Flynn-Young, Gigi Esposito, and Kat Evers about their volleyball backgrounds and experiences here at MC, and also took a look at how this year’s team stacks up.

Although they’ve been together on varsity for two years now, it wasn’t always that way. This senior group came from all different backgrounds and places in Marin, with one thing bringing them together— a love for volleyball. Throughout middle school all five girls were a part of CYO and club teams, playing in the same age bracket for the Nomar, Marin Juniors, and Absolute club programs. But when they got to MC, their paths diverged. As freshmen, Halligan, a setter, and Flynn-Young, now a middle blocker but then an outside hitter, played together on the freshman team, while Raffety, Evers and Esposito all made varsity. Those two seasons were polar opposites. For Flynn-Young and Halligan, their freshman year was an enjoyable one. “Our team was really good freshman year,” said Flynn-Young. “We had a lot of fun and I got to meet so many new people.” Halligan agreed, calling it an “easy year” competition-wise. “Our team was much better than most other teams.” But the three freshmen on varsity had a much different experience.

Initially, their feelings about making the team were mixed. Raffety, a Virginia Tech- committed outside hitter, said, “I didn’t want to make varsity. I really wanted to make JV,” since she preferred to play with her class level. On the other hand, for Esposito, a libero, making varsity as a freshman was very exciting and more of a dream come true.  Unfortunately, that excitement was short-lived. One of the most important aspects of volleyball— or any team sport—is chemistry. Being able to work together, both inside the gym and out, is critical.

But as freshmen, that team chemistry wasn’t always there. “Freshman year was really hard,” said Esposito, who, along with Raffety and Evers, recalls that being one of the youngest players on the team was a tough role to fill. “[Making Varsity] was the most exciting thing, especially as a freshman in a private high school where I didn’t know anyone.” However, Esposito continued, her experience was not as perfect as she expected because of the disconnection between the upper and underclassmen. Evers, a right side, added that fitting in with the upperclassmen was challenging.

Now that they are upperclassmen, however, the girls have decided to go out of their way to welcome the youngest members of the squad. They recognize that in order to have a good team that really meshes well, everyone should bond. “We know that a team that doesn’t have any chemistry, both off and on the court, is never going to succeed,” said Evers. Although their experience as freshmen was a difficult one, it turned out to be a valuable learning experience. “We now know how to nurture the underclassmen and make them feel welcome.”

It’s safe to say that the atmosphere surrounding this year’s team will be a positive one.  Already, the varsity team is very close—like a second family to some of the girls. And according to Halligan, it didn’t take long at all to feel that bond. “On the last day of tryouts, when everyone made the team, there was this feeling of connectedness. Right at that moment we came together and realized, this is our team. … It felt right.”

So far this year, the team is 8-1 after winning the Carmichael Invitational tournament in Sacramento and defeating both Justin-Siena and Drake. After such a strong start, the seniors have high hopes for the season. “It definitely feels different this year being a senior, but we’re all getting along really well,” said Flynn-Young. “I think that will help us a lot on the court, and we’re all so skilled that I think this season will go really well.” Halligan added, “I’m excited about all the new members on our team, and how each member provides something special to our team. It should be a good year as long as our team is confident and connected.” Will this group repeat as NCS champions, or win their first MCAL title since 2008? It’s too early to tell. But if they can continue to work together and win as one, nobody can stand in their way.