What might have seemed like a normal volleyball game to some was a bittersweet night for many in the gymnasium, as the seniors of the girls volleyball team said one final farewell to a place they had been fond of the past few years. On Oct. 7, senior night celebrated the achievements of three seniors over the course of their high school volleyball careers: visual senior Amanda Cohen, along with vocal seniors Emilia Andersen and Czhen Beneby.
The team set up a night based solely around the seniors, during which they had dinner, took photos together, ate cake, and bonded one last time at their final home game. They felt that a night of fun was what the team needed before the season ends and the team goes off to compete at districts.
“Planning senior night was honestly really fun [because] I’ve known these girls for three years now,” band junior Autumn Wong said.
Wong, like many players, found that signing the volleyballs and doing a photo shoot prior to the game was the most exciting part of senior night.
Even though the team lost to Suncoast with a score of 3–0, players reflected upon what the night was truly about: the seniors. Before the national anthem, four players gave speeches written in appreciation of each senior, as well as a more general message directed toward all three. Younger teammates expressed gratefulness for the support, guidance, and mentorship each senior had poured into the team.
“All of the mentoring they do, or the coaching they do for the younger students—all the work that they put in that might not necessarily be like a stat that shows up in the game,” Coach Ruby Hernandez said. “It’s all the things that are unsung.”
The seniors’ impacts extend beyond the volleyball court. Not only were they willing to help with any technical difficulties, like serving or passing, they were also there to mentor their peers and pass along vital skills they had developed with time, like mental perseverance.
“I love the seniors and how open and helpful they are to share their knowledge of volleyball with all of us, and how supportive [they are],” vocal freshman Amelia Giuliani said.
While their time on the team is coming to an end, the seniors look forward to the next chapter of their lives within the volleyball sphere. For her future, Beneby has ambitions to stay with the sport long term, as she recently committed to the University of Virginia’s Women’s Volleyball team.
“I worked really hard for that,” Beneby said, “and I’m very thankful for that. I’m going to major in criminal psychology. I’m really excited to be in a new environment with, like, 48,000 new people and just show them who I am.”
Andersen hopes to enter the University of Florida in the Fall 2020 term. However, her volleyball career has only just begun.
“I’d like to continue doing recreational volleyball in college,” Andersen said. “I definitely don’t want to give it up because I really, really enjoy it.”
With one final celebration, the volleyball seniors were able to honor the activity that has given them a lot of joy over the years alongside their teammates. They also got one final chance to share their wisdom with the rest of the team before the season ended.
“I want them to remember that you have to stick together because it’s all mental, [and even though] it’s very demanding physically, you have to remember to stay together,” Beneby said. “Definitely a sisters’ bond forever.”