Volleyball Preseason


Gabby Woodie

Volleyball team competing against Bentonville on September 8th.

Nabila Siddiqui, Co-Editor

   After achieving the rank as the number one team in the state and 30th nationwide in a preseason poll by Maxpreps, the volleyball team heads into the season focused on COVID restrictions and playing in a host gym. 

   “We practiced at Chaffin with one group going at a time and then once they were done we would bring in our second group of the day. Before each group walked in the doors we would temperature check them, ask them the COVID protocol questions, and give them hand sanitizer. We were doing everything we could to keep our team safe in order to be able to play in August,” assistant coach Payton Northington said.

   Achieving a rank of seventh in the regional preseason poll by AVCA/USA, the team hopes to maintain momentum each week. After a limited summer practice schedule, each player stepped up with home workouts to help retain skills and stamina.

   “We started summer practices in June. We made sure to keep everyone safe by separating our team into groups… Our girls were amazing in following the protocols put in front of them. They worked extremely hard, trying to reach the goals they placed as a team. We had several girls who would leave our practice and go workout with their trainer to get an additional workout in. Some of them would even workout before coming to practice if they had the later time slot. As coaches, we were very pleased with the work ethic they brought to pre-season,” Northington said.

   Finishing state runner up in 2019, head coach Natalie Throneberry shared an optimistic outlook as COVID protocol added extra safety levels to practices and games.

   “We get to play. Wins, losses, opponents, rivalries… it feels odd to worry about any weaknesses when you know teams all over the nation aren’t getting the opportunity to play like we are. Instead of worrying, we are learning to be grateful for any day we get to be together in the gym doing what we love.  We’ve learned that every game could be our last.  We don’t take this opportunity for granted,” Throneberry said.

 The team faces a significant amount of competition in the 6A West Conference. Bentonville, Har-Ber and Fayetteville boast standout club players which anchor key positions.

   “Each opponent is big this season. We focus on the next match being the biggest, most important match of the season. The West conference is loaded with exceptional teams.  Every night we get to play will be a big night,” Throneberry said.

   Although practicing and playing in the Chaffin Jr. High gym presents the team with challenges, they maintain their calm attitudes.  

   “We focus on controlling what we can control.  We can’t control the other team, the refs, or the fans.  We can control our effort, our thoughts, our attitude, and our behavior.  If we can control those things, we give ourselves the best chance of playing at our peak ability as a team,” Throneberry said.

  Senior Avery Fitzgerald recently received the title of top volleyball player in the state of Arkansas by Maxpreps. Fitzgerald, who committed to play at Mississippi State University, is the first volleyball player from Southside to earn this honor in the last five years. 

   “Being named the best player in Arkansas motivates me to try more and more every day to become an even better player. It pushes me to try and exceed the type of player I am now,” Fitzgerald said.    

      Senior setter Hannah Hogue committed to play at the University of Fayetteville and plans to leave high school early to practice with the university in the spring term.

   “Hannah has also done exceptionally well,she actually just surpassed 1,500 career assists during Thursday’s conference opener against Rogers,” Throneberry said.

   Moving forward, Throneberry says she continues to be proud of the girls no matter how they perform this season and plans to guide them through pandemic regulations. 

 “I am immeasurably proud of what these girls have done in the midst of absolute chaos with no home gym to play in or practice, and all while enduring a global pandemic. We are a resilient team. We get to play and we get to be together, and that is all that matters in the end,” Throneberry said.