Despite a solid 15-9 record in 2011, the Girls’ Varsity Volleyball Team started this year feeling they had a score to settle. Even though they had a great regular season last year, the Lady Firebirds saw their season end sooner than they had planned. They didn’t make it out of sectional play, even though they believed they had one of the better teams in the Dayton sectional.
As their play has shown this year, the girls have put last year’s disappointment behind them. They’ve learned from their experiences and are working to make sure the 2012 season ends how they believe it should. As of Oct. 10, the girls’ record is 15-6, with only one game remaining in the regular season.
The girls and Head Coach Bill Buirley have their eyes set on a trip to regionals, which the Fairmont ladies haven’t been to since 1984. They know it’s going to be no easy task coming out of arguably the hardest sectional in the state, but Coach Buirley has never been more confident coming into a post-season. “This is by far one of the best teams I have ever had,” he said.
This special group of girls helped Buirley achieve a personal milestone on Oct. 4, when a victory over Springboro earned the coach his 300th career victory.
The coach says the one thing that separates this team from the rest is its unity and leadership. “This team has been together for a while now, and they don’t consider themselves teammates – they consider themselves family,” said Buirley.
This year’s team has six seniors and they all have varsity experience; they are Claire Becker, Staci Bennett, Cheyenne Jones, Kara Manzo, Natalie Uy and Chelsea Welch. There are no captains but the two girls in charge are Jones and Bennett.
For these six girls, it is their last run to get this team to where they believe it should be. They are enjoying the experience of being seniors, though. “Being a senior leader is fun and exciting,” said Bennett. “It keeps me in check because I have to set an example for underclassmen.”
Uy also is making the most of her last year. “It feels awesome to finally be at the top. For three years, I’ve always looked up to seniors and it’s cool to actually be one,” said Uy.
Coach Buirley says this team is so good, he sometimes finds himself out of place on the court. “I find myself not even having to coach because these girls just know how to play,” said Buirley. “The only time I really step in is to keep the wheels on the car and to make sure they are still mentally focused in the game.”
Although Buirley lets his players play, he still has his mind on the game at all times, and he’s always looking for a weak point in the other teams. “As a good coach, you have got to know who your opponents are,” Buirley said.
In the winner-take-all world of volleyball, a team that lives by the sword knows it can also die by the sword. This season, however, it looks like the Fairmont girls are doing the sword-swinging.