Brandon Wong also contributed to this article.
The Malden High School girls varsity volleyball team began their journey into their 2021 season in early September. After a shortened season last year, with only ten games due to the Covid-19, the team was ready to come back and play the game they know and love.
Head volleyball coach Daniel Jurkowski is extremely enthusiastic about this season. With nine seniors on the varsity team, this “is the most [they] have ever kept for a senior class.” Jurkowski explains that with the “successful season [they] had last year,” he is looking to “build off of that success” to bring them to states this year.
Jurkowski also stated that the “team is very familiar to what it was last year,” continuing that “between the talent level and chemistry, this team is very special,” and has the capability of reaching the State Championship. Although Jurkowski believes this team is special, they could always “improve on communication on the court and always playing with a high level of energy.” He mentioned that “team bonding, and building off the chemistry [he had seen] from last season,” is really beneficial to the team on and off the court.
Junior Jadeline “Jade” Mora noted that she began playing the game of Volleyball because “[she] saw it as an outlet to talk to people and communicate more,” at a time where “[she] was never really good at socializing.” Mora hopes to see “improvements in [her] receives” as the season goes on. She continues, explaining that when she started working on receiving the “ball used to roll off [her] arms.” Despite seeing that “talking on the court has gotten better,” Mora still wishes to see improvements in “communicating on the court.”
The games against Lynn English and Dracut were the ones that stood out most so far for Mora. From these games, Mora would like to take the “active communication” which was “something [she] was never doing, but is something [she] would like to do regularly on and off the court,” with her into future games. Mora ended by saying that through all the hard work they are putting into the game, they are “working to make it a game and an experience and a memory to [them].”
Riley Strano, co-captain of the volleyball team, agreed with Mora that Dracut was one of their best games, but added that their game against Lynn Classical was also a great game. Strano mentioned that Dracut and Lynn Classical were both very good teams and that “[they] lost both games but played competitively” which in turn made the games “fun to watch” because they “played their best.” For Strano, she would like to incorporate the energy from these two games into further games. She elaborates on the importance of energy by saying that “even if [they’re] losing, if the energy is high and positive [it is] easier to get back into the game”
Strano has been playing volleyball since the seventh grade, six years now, where she was influenced by one of her friends to try out for the team. She “knew nothing about volleyball but was looking for a sport to play,” so she followed her friend's advice. In the spring of 2021, Strano found out she was going to be a captain for this season's Volleyball team. Although she had known prior to this, Jurkowski made it public to the team in February at one of their practices.
Strano left the previous season knowing “that there was a chance [she] could be a captain,” from the six years of experience she had as a player going into the season. She mentions that “[she] was really excited, and really comfortable with the position,” Strano also included that she wasn’t “necessarily unprepared,” but that “adjusting to being the person who leads the team was most challenging but also most rewarding,” for her. Strano is always looking to “enhance her skills,” and believes there is “always more to learn.” She specifies her needs for improvements stating she “would like to get better at back row,” and overall make “[herself] a better all around player.”
The Greater Boston League (GBL) is officially back in full swing, and includes all teams once again. With this in mind, Jurkowski’s goal for this season is to “win GBL and States” and nine games into the season, this goal is “still in play.” Jurkowski added onto his goal stating that “[his] goal is try to have fun every day.” High school sports tend to be a big commitment and can sometimes be stressful on students, but Jurkowski wants the team to “remember to love the sport as much as [he] does.” With the GBL back in full swing, some of Malden’s biggest rivals come back into play. Teams such as Medford, Everett, and Somerville, are some of the teams Jurkowski most looks forward to getting the chance to play this year.
Malden’s next game is an away game against Somerville on October 6, but they return home the next day for a match against Chelsea at 5:15 on October 7, 2021 in the Finn Gym.