Riverdale has raided the playoff bracket.
The school’s Tier 1 senior girls volleyball team did so by clinching third spot in the South Region’s East Division with a 2-0 (25-17, 25-17) win over Jarvis Bulldogs, Jan. 31.
But the berth into the next round is raising concerns about a defeatist attitude among the Raiders, coach Karen Gallagher said.
“I would say none of the teams in the south are unbeatable, but the girls just have to believe that,” she said. “They have a hard time believing they can beat anybody this year.”
It’s not just Gallagher who has noticed.
Middle Kayla Vanderkolk acknowledged her Riverdale teammates are anxious when it comes to the game.
“Right now I feel we’re a bit mentally weak just because we played very well in practice, but it seems we lose something when we stand on the court against opponents,” she said. “It can be a little disheartening when the team is not working as a unit, when we’re not communicating.”
Vanderkolk was also playing injured, having to tape up a nagging thumb.
“It’s been getting me all season since the beginning of the season,” she said. “I’ve been having some trouble earlier this year since I broke my middle finger — so it’s not been the best year in terms of injuries.”
The first set started well for the Blue and White, as they jumped out to an early 7-2 lead before Tumaini Shoo relented control of the ball.
Deeper into the set both teams struggled to find their stride at service, volleying possession back and forth.
Riverdale regained service and Marley Reville Brown smacked an ace past Bulldogs’ middles. The following serve would see a strong rally, concluding with a great block by Vanderkolk.
However, Jarvis would narrow the gap with the help of Vicky Luo and Sally Nguyen. Their efforts in the second set would also keep Riverdale on their toes.
Bulldogs coach Elene Sgouromitis lauded her two charges in taking control.
“We had a slow start today, but I thought they came swinging back in the second set,” she said. “They had a lot of momentum going in, they gave it their all in the second set and I’m pretty proud of how the team fought back.”
Vanderkolk realized there were challenges ahead after beating Jarvis.
“We won, but at the same time there are things we could have improved, like just getting at bumps, not stressing out about it and becoming more relaxed.”
That was the winning mindset the girls carried with them into their quarter-final match against Harbord Tigers, Feb. 3. Unfortunately, the Raiders bowed out early, losing 2-0.
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