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Senior Night. Game Night. Varsity Volleyball. By: ryo weng

Energy flooded through the front doors of the Phil Roark Gymnasium as families and students piled onto the bleachers during Game Night, an event hosted by Leadership, on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The Redwood girls’ varsity volleyball team played the Drake Pirates and won 3-1.

Since Game Night coincided with Senior Night this year, the three seniors on the volleyball team, Ella Spaethling, Taylor Leslie and Britney Klein, were honored for their contributions through heartfelt speeches from their families and teammates. Spaethling, Leslie and Klein are also the team captains for this young team. The crowd pulsated with excitement, eager to see them play in their last Game Night at Redwood.

According to Coach Ursula Kunhardt, the atmosphere of a Game Night can have an impact on the players, but the seniors did not let it affect them.

“Senior Night can always be emotional for the girls, for everybody, so it was good to see them keep their heads and stay composed,” Kunhardt said.

After highly competitive play between the two teams, Drake was able to pull ahead and win the first set. Spaethling was determined to motivate her teammates in whatever way possible to overcome their early setback.

“Last season, we didn’t do as well, so having this season [be] our comeback season, and having that as my senior season in my senior year, is really great,” Ella said.

Kunhardt admires Ella for her hard work throughout the season and on Senior Night.

“She is going to be sorely missed next year. She’s given it her all this season,” Kunhardt added.

After a multitude of countless perfectly-timed sets made by junior Lucy Walsh, and persistent bumps from junior Jordan Perry, Redwood was able to fight back and win the next three sets to secure the win. Additionally, Ella and Taylor contributed to the game through their leadership and athletic plays.

After the match, Jeff Leslie, Taylor’s father, commented on how special it was for his daughter to be honored on Senior Night.

“I wanted to make sure I rushed to Redwood from work to make sure I wasn’t late for the senior ceremony, especially [with Taylor’s] sister [giving] one of her speeches before the game,” Jeff said.

Kunhardt emphasized Taylor’s key role on the team.

“Taylor is the absolute heart of our team…she’s always the one to get us fired up...she has so much energy and so much positive attitude,” Kunhardt said.

Dominic Spaethling, Ella’s father, also recounted how much he loves seeing his daughters play.

“I’ve been watching Redwood varsity volleyball for seven years. It’s always one of my favorite things to do, and I’m sad that it’s come to an end, but I’m really proud of Ella for being a part of this program,” Dominic said.

Dominic also brought up how his daughter being a senior has shaped her role on the team.

“She contributes on the court, and from what I heard tonight, it sounds like she also contributes off the court too, trying to be inspirational for her teammates through her play and attitude,” Dominic said.

Team Captain Klein was also honored on Senior Night. Kunhardt expressed how Klein’s positive attitude has impacted the team.

“She is such a sweet kid and that’s something you can’t teach. She just brings such a light to the team,” Kunhardt said.

Even though this was the seniors’ last Game Night, their season is not over yet. Their next game is Wednesday, Oct. 10 against Terra Linda at home.

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Ryo Weng
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Photos by Ryo Weng

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