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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Girls Varsity Volleyball: Unity, Skill and Resilience

The Girls Varsity Volleyball team competing in a PVAC game. The team illustrates their determination to secure a victory and championship in the PVAC league. (Courtesy of Shane Royster)

In the sport of volleyball, dedicated coaches and passionate players are extremely important for success. At WIS, the Girls Varsity Volleyball team exuded commitment and skill this season, driven by their coach, Jon Tang, and their devoted senior captains, Elektra Gea-Sereti and Jenna Loescher-Clark.

Tang, a former high school and college volleyball player, drifted away from the sport until his son’s interest reignited his passion. With a desire to coach, he reached out to his former volleyball contacts for guidance, and an unexpected opportunity arose to coach at the Maryland Volleyball Program. Despite his initial lack of coaching credentials, Tang quickly distinguished himself with his commitment to the game’s fundamentals and emphasis on mental resilience. 

Tang’s journey led him to WIS in 2022, first as an assistant coach and now as the head coach. He is motivated to coach the Girls Varsity Volleyball team by his belief in the team’s potential and his enduring love for the sport.

“I’ve always loved volleyball,” Tang said. “I love the team aspect of it.” 

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This passion for volleyball has kept him engaged in the sport, inspiring him to spread his love for the game.

Tang has a clear vision for WIS’ girls volleyball team, emphasizing growth, whether it’s through players improving their skills, fostering the bond between team members or having them pursue club teams in the postseason. He hopes that improving skills and cohesion will translate into tangible success on the court. In terms of Tang’s goals for the 2023 season, he has high aspirations to make deep runs in various competitions.

“In the short term, we want to take home the [Potomac Valley Athletics Conference (PVAC)] champions banner,” he said. “Long term, we want to be able to defend that championship and be strong contenders at the [District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA)] tournament.”

Even though the team was unable to earn the PVAC banner this season, they still had a memorable postseason, beating Model Secondary School for the Deaf in a rematch from earlier in the year during the DCSAA tournament. Overall, the team concluded its season with a 13-3 record, securing a spot in the DCSAA quarterfinals round. Unfortunately, the team fell short against top-seeded Jackson-Reed High School, which led the PVAC regular season, finishing with a 7-1 record. 

Junior Shane Royster, a WIS Girls Varsity Volleyball team player, spoke positively about her experience and the impact of Coach Tang’s guidance.

“I had been playing volleyball since sixth grade and joined the team to connect with a great community,” Royster said. “Coach Tang has boosted my confidence, especially in skills like spiking.”

This growth in enthusiasm and talent is a testament to Tang’s influence. “His numerous talks about positivity and teamwork have strengthened us both as a team and individually,” Royster said.

For Gea-Sereti, volleyball has been a passion since sixth grade, yet it began arbitrarily. “It was genuinely a random decision to join volleyball, but I fell in love with the sport,” she said. 

Gea-Sereti’s love for the game is evident in her dedication to technique and strategy. 

“To get an amazing kill, you need an amazing set and you need an amazing pass,” she said.  

Her passion is also displayed in the unique camaraderie of the team. “The team element of volleyball is so important,” Gea-Sereti said.

Her role as co-captain has transcended her skills on the court through her strong mentality. 

“Volleyball is such a mental sport,” she said. “I really hope that I am someone who can help others when they get down on themselves and keep the team’s energy up.”

Tang’s philosophy of emphasizing mental strength has been instrumental for Gea-Sereti, specifically in highlighting the significance of resilience. 

For this past season, both Tang and Gea-Sereti were optimistic before their loss to Model Secondary School for the Deaf.

“We just finished the regular season as the first seed in our conference and currently ranked first in DCSAA,” Tang said. 

Gea-Sereti aspired to clinch and have a deep run in the DCSAA tournament. Nonetheless, beyond victories, she stresses the importance of team bonding and leaving a legacy on the court.

The Girls Varsity Volleyball team, under the leadership of Tang and the dedication of players like Gea-Sereti, is a testament to the beauty of the sport. As they prepare for next season, their unity, skill, and resilience will undoubtedly shine through.

“Our team is a really amazing group of people,” Gea-Sereti said. “No matter what happens, I’m sure we will definitely leave a mark on the court.”


By Leonardo Sarzi Braga

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Leonardo Sarzi Braga, Multimedia Publications Editor

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