Champaign Centennial girls’ varsity volleyball team is wrapping up a fascinating season. The lady Chargers used this season as a rebuilding year. The Charger lost 5 seniors from last season. Luckily, the team picked up Leah Luchinski , a star freshman setter. With a large incoming senior class of 9 girls, the Chargers have many capable leaders on the team.
I sat with 3 senior players to discuss the volleyball season. Jillian Estes, Libero, Sahirah Ellis, outside hitter and middle, and Olivia Smith, outside hitter. Ellis, a 3 year varsity player, believes that this is a crazy season. “This is a bittersweet season because we are seniors, and it’s our last season. But I’m excited for our future! Everyone is hitting our peak which helps us out a lot,” says Ellis.
Along with most of the other girls, these 3 seniors have been playing together since 6th grade, so I thought it only made sense to ask how this season was different from the others. Smith says that, “Because we are seniors we are the leaders, and puts everything into perspective.
This our last season so it makes every game more memorable.” Estes, the team’s hard working defensive specialist, believes that one of the team’s greatest strengths is player diversity. Many players can play a several different positions. Shariah and Olivia agree that the team members have positive attitudes. They tend to encourage each other, instead of “beating up” each other in tough situations. This outlook has promoted their success!
The team was coach-less at the end of the 2015-16 season until Genevieve O’Malley stepped in to fill the role. The girls love their new coach; they agree her laid back and understanding approach makes it easy to work hard in practice. Although Sarirah likes O’Malley a lot, she finds it frustrating that this is her third coach in four seasons. Sahirah thinks that stability in the volleyball coach staff would contribute to team success in future seasons.
Overall, the senior players should be very happy with their past four years. And the team should be proud of a great season. The Charger volleyball team has strong JV players ready to fill in spots vacated by seniors. The future of Centennial volleyball is in great hands!