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Getting To Know Chargers' Volleyball Team

Illini West Volleyball:

Everyone On The Team Makes A Difference

-by Head Coach Dakota Lafferty

As our team nears the end of the regular season, one thing that has separated us from other teams is our energy and team camaraderie. Our team canít attribute our success to any one player; we have 13 girls filling unique roles that have helped us stay confident in pressure situations. The attitude of this team is selfless but competitive. They hate to lose more than they love to win and do everything with a sense of urgency.

Our girls are also very mature with recognizing when a teammate is struggling, making it their goal to pick them up through positive encouragement. With volleyball being a race to score 25 points, confidence is a huge aspect in any team being successful.

This particular group of girls has done a great job of striving for improvement rather than creating a pressure to win, and that has eliminated their fear of failure in the process. Each week teammates are reminding one another, after mistakes, to keep moving forward with enthusiasm. Their optimism and determined attitude are contagious and has made coaching them so much fun.

How would you describe the personality of your team?

Our team is full of excitement and liveliness. There is never a dull moment, and I feel like I am always laughing and having fun. -Kate DeSotel

What's your favorite part of being on the volleyball team?

My favorite part of being on the team is not only the sport but itís also the girls that we play with. We challenge each other every day at practice. We always give 100% effort in what we do. -A.J. Cook

What's helped your team win 3 tournaments this season?

Bringing energy from the start and wanting to win. -Maddie Quesenberry

Giving 100% effort at practices has helped us, and the weight room has a big impact on the power we have. Also, having relationships with the girls helps us play better because we connect more.†-A.J. Cook

As you get further into the season, how do you stay motivated in practice and focused on season goals?

We all like to make things a competition and we know there is a reward to strive for in post season. -Maddie Quesenberry

I stay motivated by just by working hard and focusing on big things for the team. -Ali Lopez

I think the way to stay motivated in practice is to keep the mindset ďthere is always room for improvement.Ē As we get further into the season, at practice we just need to keep this in mind and keep getting better. We also need to keep in mind practice is how we will accomplish our goals for the season.†-Kate DeSotel

How much has the weight room helped your team?

The weight room has helped all of us become strong in many ways by helping us jump higher and hit stronger. -Kennedy Artman

What separates your team from other teams?

Our team has multiple weapons that can be used, not just one. -Maddie Quesenberry

We work well as a team, pick each other up, and celebrate each otherís success. -Kennedy Artman

I think what separates us is how close we are. We have no drama. We are all super close and weíre each otherís best friends. We hang out outside of volleyball and include everyone. -Ali Lopez

Our bond off the court separates us from other teams. We are such good friends outside of school. We will hang out together outside of school and sports and we grow closer as our friendships go.† -A.J. Cook

How has team camaraderie helped you this season?

The team being close is a huge advantage for us. We know each otherís strengths and weaknesses, which helps us in the game. Weíve been able to bond and build the trust between each other to where there are no doubts. -Maddie Quesenberry

Our teamís closeness on and off the court has helped a significant amount. I think that because we are so close off the court, we are able to know each otherís personality, and be able to sense when someone is down and be able to pick them up on the court. -Kate DeSotel

What is your favorite drill in practice and why?

I love to work on angle passing because it helps me tremendously in a game dig more balls and give our hitters a chance to hit. -Kennedy Artman

My favorite drill is serving and serve receive. It may sound boring but it truly helps us get better. -A.J. Cook

What do you love most about volleyball?

I love the energy and enthusiasm that comes with volleyball. Volleyball has so much excitement and thatís why I love it so much. -Kate DeSotel

I love that in order to accomplish success in volleyball, you have to work as a TEAM. -Kennedy Artman

What is your teamís greatest strength?

Having a coach that wants whatís best for us while pushing us to be the best we can be. -Kennedy Artman

Our greatest strengths, I think, are how close we are and how much we know about each other. -Ali Lopez

The teamís greatest strength is our chemistry. Sure, we have the hitters who can put the ball down and the passer who can pass it to the setter, but we all get along so well which is a major contributor. -Maddie Quesenberry

Does your team have any pregame routines? Describe them.

Usually before games we get a speaker to hype ourselves up and dance and sing along, and sometimes someone comes in before a big game and gives us a hype up speech. -Ali Lopez

We go into the locker room and listen to music to pump us up. We always get excited to play. -A.J. Cook

There are 2 regular season games left next week. Thursday is our Senior Night at home vs. Mendon Unity. Our girls will travel to Canton High School on 10/24 to play the winner of Farmington and Canton for the first round of Regionals at 6 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Rick Goettsche

ďThe defensive specialists of this yearís team include Corin Robinson, Abi White, A.J. Cook, Kaelyn Ferrill, Ali Lopez, and Kate DeSotel.Ē