Queens of the court

Senior volleyball players share deep bonds from years of playing together


Darcy Leber

Senior Olivia Acker stands ready for the serve alongside the back row on Sept. 26 at the Southport Fieldhouse. All three players in this photo are seniors on the Cards volleyball team.

Emotions ran high as the Lady Cards volleyball team seniors sang the SHS anthem for one of the last times. They had sung that song after every win, and this time was no different. The win wasn’t the only meaningful thing about that game, it was one of the last games the seniors would ever play together at SHS. Coming up on five years, the SHS Lady Card volleyball seniors have been a strong unit on and off the court. The six seniors: Hailey Kiefner, Hailey Gonsiorowski, Breanna Reed, Marianna Martinez, Olivia Acker and Kyiah Strode, have made a family and bond that can be accredited to their years of hard work together.
“The more we hangout, the better we do on the court,” Strode said. “It’s a bond.”
The girls first started playing together in eighth grade at SMS. Because of how long they’ve spent together, they have found it very easy to play with each other and shake off any mistakes they may make during matches. The seniors are very comfortable with each other. Every game they play is fun and brings them closer together.
Their coach, Chelsea Hoffman, has noticed a great amount of communication and effort from the team this year. The seniors have brought a chemistry that creates a safe space, filled with the ability to accept feedback and get their job done.
“There is a chemistry and they all know each other,” Hoffman said. “They work hard, they can talk to each other and give good criticism to each other.”
They’ve learned many things from their years together. At this point in their volleyball careers, they are very familiar with how the other players move, and it has become something they’re very aware of. All the seniors know how they can help each other grow, whether that be during a game or in their personal lives. Without volleyball, they would never have learned how to help each other become stronger as themselves and as a team.
Along with spending countless hours and days on the court, the seniors also try to hang out every weekend. Even if it’s a simple car ride or smoothie run, they set aside time to bond as a team and nurture the family they’ve created.

This season, they have focused on including the underclassman more in their hangouts since they’ve seen how it’s brought them together. They want to bring that same sense of unity to the entire team.
“It brings everybody together, plus we’ve really started encouraging each other way more,” Kiefner said.
A part of making their senior season special is adding the underclassman to their family. Being together for as long as they have, they find it much easier to make the other players feel comfortable and safe within the team they’ve found comfort in.
“We are so much more comfortable with each other and we trust each other,” Kiefner said.
All of the seniors plan to go to college, and they even plan on creating a club team so they can continue to play together past high school. They don’t want this season to be their last, so the club team is a way they want to keep their connection and bond alive.

There were only two seniors on the volleyball team last year, so having six this year is a big change. Having as many seniors as they do is a reason they believe their team is as close as it is. Coach Hoffman also has noticed a change in their work ethic and drive to play to the best of their abilities.
“There is a different drive this year,” Hoffman said. “Every game it was different. Every game they wanted to win and they wanted to do well.”
This new drive is showing up in the team’s stats. This year, the Cards are 12-16, which is an improvement from last year’s record of 8-18.

As this is their last season at SHS, they are very emotional. Though they are happy with how this season has gone, it is still bittersweet as it is their last.“They’ve played with us since they were in eighth grade and I’m gonna miss them,” Hoffman said.