Purcellville, Va. (December 14, 21013) – For four of Loudoun Valley’s varsity volleyball players, their sport is not only invigorating but is a serious, time-consuming commitment.
“I love that exhilarating feeling you get when you get a kill, block or awesome dig,” junior Hanna Ortmann said.
This year, four varsity volleyball players were named for the all-conference 28 team. Senior Hailee Goolsby and Ortmann were nominated to first team. Junior Victoria Freiberg and senior Sammy Iliff made second team. In addition, Goolsby was honorably named for 3A all-region first team and Ortmann was selected for the second team. The all-conference and all-region titles are honorary awards presented to the best players in the conference.
Goolsby, an outside hitter, made first all-conference team for the second time in her career this year.
“I’m really happy I made it again, especially since I think the conference was tougher this year,” Goolsby said.
Ortmann, a middle hitter, dominated the net this season and achieved all-conference and all-region recognition for her efforts.
“Making first conference as a junior is really an honor to me. It was my goal for this season. I’m really glad my hard work, on and off the court, has paid off,” Ortmann said.
Ortmann made the varsity team her sophomore year and has returned this year aiming to earn the honorary all-conference title. She shares her knowledge of the game with the younger players joining the team.
This season, eight JV players were added to the roster while only five returned from the previous season. Freiberg, a setter, is the only first time varsity player that made the all-conference team.
With such a young team, teammates feared that the girls’ lack of varsity experience would harm their record.
“My favorite part of this season was our first game against Tuscarora. Since we’re such a young team, I didn’t know how we would match up against such a big school,” Ortmann said. “Despite the odds, we pushed them to five sets proving we could hang with them. Even though we lost, I couldn’t have been prouder of how diligently we played on the court. Our team efforts really emphasized how much potential we had as a team this season.”
A day in the life of a student athlete is stressful. It can be very difficult for teenagers to manage their time between school and sports. Mental, physical, and time dedication is required to succeed at this level of play. Social engagements often have to be laid aside for their sport. The girls that have played at this level take this dedication to a new level through the time and energy that they devote entirely to volleyball.
Volleyball is a strenuous physical sport. Although the girls do not come in direct contact with their opponents, they pass a ball moving up to 60mph with their arms. Often, the girls will have a split second to react to a ball traveling quickly towards them. Players often dive across the floor to get to a ball, skidding their skin against the hard floor.
Goolsby has been playing volleyball since sixth grade and has been a part of the varsity team for three years. She plays volleyball year round, rotating between high school and travel teams.
Ortmann puts all of her energy into volleyball. She wakes up at 6 a.m. in order to work out at the local gym before school, practices every week day from 4-6 p.m. and improves her jumping vertical by attending to training sessions once a week. For her, the hours spent training are worth the rewards.
Freiberg spends most of her week on the volleyball court, in preparation for her next game or tournament.
“During the school season we practice six days a week for a couple hours each day. Then I do club which is one or two times a week, but then you have tournaments that last all day,” Freiberg said.
Plans to play in the volleyball in the future differ between each girl. Goolsby has not decided whether she will continue to play volleyball in college, but hopes to continue playing on a club team
“It’s basically all I do and it’s been such a big part of my life for so long now,” Goolsby said.
After graduating, Ortmann hopes to play volleyball at the collegiate level.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of coaches and gone on some visits, but nothing is set in stone,” Ortmann said.
Throughout the off season, Freiberg plays club volleyball for Potomac Elite. Freiberg hopes to continue with volleyball at the collegiate level for Washington and Lee if she gets the opportunity.
“[Volleyball] is something that is a lot of fun and it’s competitive. I enjoy it and I’ve put so much time into it, I don’t want to stop now,” Freiberg said.
The backbone of the team has been Coach Laird Johnson. He has coached for 36 years, 24 of which have been for the varsity volleyball team.
“I think this team skill-wise is as good as any team we’ve had. But we just didn’t have the height advantage that we’ve had in the past,” Johnson said.
Without the height advantage along the net, the team’s ability to set up successful blocks and high verticals was impaired. Instead the team used their quickness and athleticism to beat their opponents.
“When we opened the season up we had a really great match against Tuscarora even though we lost, I thought it was a great start,” Johnson said.
The Vikings progressed throughout the season. They improved their skills and fought for a high seed in the conference tournament, ending their season with a winning 10-9 record.
As both a science teacher and a coach, Johnson has the opportunity to see both sides of his student athletes, both in the gym and in the classroom. For four years, Johnson observes his players grow and move towards their goals.
“You’ve got to have a goal, you’ve got to know what you want. But you’ve got to know that you have stops along the way, so enjoy the journey,” Johnson said.
Article written by Viva Loudoun intern Emily Baer.