A Pandemic-Era West Volleyball Season

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Lea Filidore

Senior proud! West seniors Lea Filidore, Maddie Weller, Lily Kendall, Caelan O’Connor, and Maureen Hammond, pose in Wagner Gymnasium for a senior team photo.

Lea Filidore, Staff Reporter

This past year has, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, brought on new scenarios and realities. School sports are not exempt from the unprecedented changes that everyone has been facing throughout the last year. Being the only indoor fall sport offered at Downingtown West High School, the women’s volleyball team faced major setbacks in their season.

While other teams could begin “regular” practices in the summer, the volleyball team had to train outside in the grass until early September. Despite the setbacks and challenges faced by the team, all the girls trained hard and looked forward to getting into the gym.

When asked about the trials and struggles of this past season, senior co-captain Maddie Weller said, “Being a senior during COVID was certainly not what I pictured but we made the most of it! It forced us to find unique ways to stay together and keep training even though there was so much uncertainty about the season. It was great to see everyone working so hard over the summer that once we got back in the gym, the energy was great and everyone was so happy to be back. A thank you to our athletic staff for allowing us to compete this season!”

Once the team was able to get into the gym to begin “normal” (because nothing is truly normal anymore) practices, they took off running. The girls practiced and played games in masks without complaint, abiding by COVID guidelines and doing everything in their power to keep their teammates and coaches safe. The varsity team ended their season with a record of 4-3, playing seven games in their abbreviated season. The JV team went 5-2.

Though the West volleyball team faced many ups and downs throughout their short season, they also experienced some shining victories. The West girls snatched a solid victory against rival Downingtown East in a nail-biting five-set match. While the match started close, the girls were able to pull out a decisive victory against the Cougars. When discussing the West vs. East match, Maureen Hammond (’21) said, “The competition was tough, but I knew West Volleyball would pull through for the tight Downingtown East match. It was exciting to win our senior season game against our biggest rival!”

West volleyball also experienced a moment of pride and achievement in their match against Shanahan High School. The varsity team was able to go to five sets with Bishop Shanahan, the 2019 state runner-up, having lost by only two points in the last set. This was a big accomplishment for the West volleyball program as they have not won a set against Shanahan in over four years. Senior co-captain Lily Kendall described the experience, saying, “This year’s Shanahan Game was the most fun game I’ve ever played with this team at West. During this game it truly showed how great we are and how great our future will be. I’ve never been prouder of this team after that game even though we didn’t win. It was still a huge accomplishment for all of us.”

Unfortunately, West’s last 2020 game was canceled for pandemic reasons, ending their season quickly and suddenly. Despite having a fast-paced, unconventional season, the girls made the best of it and worked hard to create a sense of normalcy. Following the conclusion to their season, Lea Filidore (co-captain, ’21) was awarded the honor of “Best Defensive Player”, Maddie Weller (co-captain, ’21) was awarded “Most Valuable Player”, and Jenna Shuda (’22) was awarded “Best Offensive Player.”  Congrats to these girls and the entire team for their contributions to the 2020 West Volleyball season. Go West!