Williamsport, South volleyball make county history
Volleyball won’t be found only in gym classes any more in Lycoming County. Tuesday, the Williamsport Millionaires and South Williamsport Mounties made history.
The first varsity volleyball contest between two Lycoming County schools did not disappoint in the packed South Williamsport gymnasium, as Williamsport defeated South Williamsport, 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-20).
Each team had its turn of excitement from the first point of the match scored by South senior Monica Boone, to the first long rally in the second set that got the crowd blaring louder after every hit, all the way to the last point which belonged to Williamsport’s Myla Kelley, and the Millionaires won the match in three sets.
“It was a win to us, because every match we hope to get more points than we did before. We know that winning every game is not in our vision in the first year of the program,” Boone said about how her team has come leaps and bounds from its first practice in the middle of August. “We started the season not even being able to pass to each other cleanly. We are happy with getting the ball over the net and make some plays.”
Boone scored the opening points of the night with an ace point, serving the ball and finding a soft spot on the Williamsport side to not allow for a return.
“The ball will go in the trophy case. It’s really exciting to get the first point in school history,” Boone said.
The ball was removed from the game right away and never used in the match, cementing the senior’s achievement forever. It will be displayed in the South Williamsport trophy case.
It wasn’t about the outcome, but the experience both sides had during the excitement that was meaningful.
Both programs are in their earliest stages as South Williamsport put together its squad just two weeks before the start of school, less than a month before its first scheduled contest yesterday. Williamsport was able to go through a trial run last season against JV teams of the NTL.
“A lot of the girls are first-time athletes, not ever playing a varsity sport coming in. So they are learning to become athletes,” Williamsport coach Linda Radocaj said. ” We have a good group of girls that are all in and understand the commitment that is involved.”
It’s tough for any coach and player to begin a new chapter in varsity athletics and to be a part of a new sport takes a lot of effort which goes unnoticed. Neither side was focusing on winning Wednesday night, but looking at building the sport from the grassroots by getting the girls to understand the fundamentals and positioning of the sport that is new to a lot of people in the area.
“This spring we put in a lot of hours of practice and open gym to get the girls prepped and ready for the season,” Radocaj said. “You try to make up all of the time the girls have missed from not playing before.”
South Williamsport coach Tom Packard had prior experience from his time as the assistant coach of the Lycoming College women’s volleyball team (2009-2010). The Mounties knew they would get a coach that can teach the game well.
“We went from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day before school started, then we were 4 to 6 leading up to the game.” Packard said.
“We had one girl that played at the YMCA — nobody has ever played except for gym class — and if you ask them if this is gym class they’ll tell ya. It’s not even close,” South Williamsport’s Lea Fessler said.
“I didn’t expect high school girls to be this good, but I also wasn’t expecting us to be where we are (in development),” Fessler said without a thought of the scoreboard outcome.
New programs do not get started in a day and each will continue to grow through the years. Each side has put in a lot of effort to make Tuesday night such a success, but they were all very thankful for all of the pieces to fall into place and be volleyball trail blazers in the area.
“We really have to thank the school board for it all being possible,” Boone said.
“I presented the idea to the school board in December and after a few financial configurations and planning we were able to get a team together,” Fessler’s mom Lynn said.
“It takes a lot of effort on the girls and they really have to buy in, and we are lucky that we have a good group of girls that are all in and understand the commitment and everything that is involved.” Radocaj said.