Junior Ema Djordjevic jumps up for a set as the Rockets defeat Clarksburg in three straight sets.
Junior Ema Djordjevic jumps up for a set as the Rockets defeat Clarksburg in three straight sets.
Ben Willingham

Girls volleyball digs deep, starts season on top

RM’s 2023 girls varsity volleyball team could accomplish something special this season. They have the talent, the drive, the teamwork and the support from the fans. Having both two new freshmen and two returning seniors, the team has talent from all grade levels. Last season, the team finished 11-7, losing in the second round of playoffs to Wootton HS. This year the players hope to continue their playoff run much further. 

The overall goal for this season is simple, go all the way to win states. However, the team also wants to improve as a team and win as many games as they can. “We actually all made posters and wrote down our personal and team goals,” junior Corrine Howard said. Writing down and clearly stating their hopes for the season can help everyone work together to accomplish them.  

“Everyone this year is on the same page and knows we can achieve our main goal,” junior Ema Djordjevic said. The team knows winning states will not come easy, and will take hard work and dedication for the entire season. This means putting in effort during and outside of practice to be the best they can be. “We lift two to three times a week before practice, and after every game, we watch film and assess our performance,” Howard said. 

Watching films can help players learn from their mistakes during a previous game and improve in the future.  “We are focusing on not cheating ourselves in practice and getting one percent better every day in practice,” sophomore Ellie Mitchell said. 

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We are happy about our sweeps so far, but are looking to be more aggressive on the court in the future.

— Caroline Kaye

Another key aspect to success is communication and chemistry in the team. “Communication is an essential aspect that can make or break us. Before practices, we talk about our day and bond to bring us closer,” Djordjevic said. 

Montgomery County is full of volleyball talent, with many schools having top-ranked players. Another school full of talent is Wootton, which RM lost to in the playoffs last year, ending their season. “They are our biggest competition this year and we are eager to play them,” Howard said as they looked towards the rest of the season.  The teams are scheduled to play on Oct. 9 at Wootton.

So far, this season has lived up to the hype. The Rockets have impressively swept all four teams they have played, winning in three straight sets each game. This includes Kennedy, Springbrook, Northwest and Wheaton. “We are happy about our sweeps so far, but are looking to be more aggressive on the court in the future,” Kaye said. Leading the team this year as captains are senior Casey Bradley, along with juniors Caroline Kaye, Corrine Howard and Ema Djordjevic. All four players play a key role on the team with both talent and leadership. Captain Ema Djordjevic has had a great start to the season, having a career-high 22 assists and 10 Kills in their recent win against Springbrook, putting her total to 41 on the season. 

The team is coached by Gretchen Barber-Stunk, who played volleyball in high school and has been a coach for many years. This year, she wants to take the team as far as they can go and support them throughout the way.  “My first priority is to keep their love for the game and help them get this team, where we have all decided we want to be,” Barber-Stunk said. She has high hopes for the team this year and agrees this team is something special. 

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