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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Age will not hold her back: Freshman bumps her way into varsity squad

Picture 1: Lillian Orloff (with the ball) playing back in Middle School alongside Isis Hayes (right), Michelle Svihra (center).

Washington, DC: The WIS community is proud of young volleyball star’s performance, playing one of the most important positions on the varsity team.

Lillian Orloff, a 14 year-old freshman, has the WIS students abuzz from her skill. Leading her varsity team to many victories, this young player has proven to be a vital part of the volleyball squad. Having won many more games than they’ve lost, the rising star is part of the loved team.

Coach Nicholas Lowen, normally English teacher, speaks of why he chose Lillian Orloff to play libero. “She’s very good, it helps the team the most, and she feels most comfortable playing there.” He continues, speaking of how she’s such a team player, giving “all her teammates high fives. She makes hard plays look easy.”

This young player is filling the shoes of a graduated student Pia Michelitsch, who is currently attending the University of Toronto, playing one of the hardest positions, according to the ‘Art of Coaching Volleyball’, the libero. After winning the PVAC (Potomac Valley Athletics Cup) Player of the Year award as well as leading her team to the league’s championship, Michelitch shoes will be very difficult to fill.

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“It’s really hard” Orloff  said. “Pia was such a good player and so impressive, so it’s been hard to fill her shoes. But,” she continued, “I feel like I bring something new to the team and different to the team because of my age. I’m new and have all these new ideas. And I love playing libero.”

Positioned normally around the middle/back area, her job is to receive the ball, saving the play. A lot of pressure has been put on her, as this position has been described by the Art of Coaching Volleyball as the most mentally taxing positions, mainly because of the need to keep the play moving. Needing to bump and receive, the libero needs to be able to perform this skill perfectly,.

And according to her, she does have to deal with some problems. Orloff describes some of the struggles she faces, while smoothly bumping a ball up and down in the gym. “Well, I’ve got a lot of pressure”, she said, referring to her taxing position and her young age,  “but my teammates are supportive even when I make a mistake.”

Made up of mainly seniors and juniors, this team rarely loses. Rival of the varsity team, Wilson High School, recently beat the WIS varsity team, even though they fought long and hard for it. Coached by English teacher Nicholas Lowen, this varsity team is the most popular team in the school, with the largest waiting list for players. Orloff has definitely secured herself a spot on the starting squad, even with competition from so many other young talented players.

Picture 2: The old varsity team from last year, with libero Pia Michelitsch (center in red). Credit of Washington International School

But she successfully has secured herself a position on the varsity squad. Athletic director, Tom Omara, who has attended many of the volleyball games, describes her skill on the court.  “Lillian is an impressive player, not only because of her [receiving] skills, but also her strong understanding of the game,” he says. “She’s excellent at what she does.”

And her skill and vitality to the team is seen while on the court.  Student Ellie Fithian, who has attended many of the games, relates how “I’m really proud of her … the fact she’s willing to dive anywhere to get the ball. She’s such a team player.”

Her skills have been refined from all her years of practice. Many students circle around her on the basketball court during lunch every day, as she leads a circle of kids in volleyball. In her free time, as well as on the court, she continues her job as libero.

She has filled the shoes of the last, retired player excellently. The young star is now in her seventh week of the season, with playoffs coming up. With her help as well as the skill and prowess of the rest of the team, this varsity squad is expected to win their division.

“For a ninth grader, she’s incredible,” said student Sofia Sepulveda. “She plays varsity of course”, says student Inaya Zaman, another volleyball player, “she is one of the best players I’ve ever seen.”


Marama Diaz-Asper

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