An Unusual Year for Volleyball

How volleyball was still able to have a season amidst the pandemic


Melissa Landeck

Seven senior volleyball players are part of the 2021 season three roster.

Coming out of the 2019-2020 season, NVOT’s volleyball team were the reigning county champions. But things looked different for the team this year. The team not only had an abnormal season during the 2020-2021 school year, but also faced other challenges and setbacks. 

“This season was unlike any other we experienced,” varsity coach Melissa Landeck said. Regardless, the team was able to finish the season with a record of 4-4. 

One of the major changes the team faced this year was the time change of the season. In order to adhere to the COVID restrictions, the volleyball season was moved to season three, which meant the season would be in the spring between March 1 and April 12 instead of in the fall between August (preseason) and November. The modified season was significantly shorter, as a normal season typically lasts about four months. The season continued to shorten when the school issued a quarantine period between March 17 and April 1, during which the team wasn’t allowed to practice or play games. Because of this period, the team wasn’t able to play eight games, which was the bulk of its season. Co-Captain Christina Chu noted that this period “affected our team chemistry on and off the court, but we did the best we could once we got back into the gym.”

The team also had trouble bonding together because of the restrictions of the pandemic. Chu stated that “the complications of COVID prevented us from having a full team in the gym,” making it harder to form friendships and grow closer as a team. The team wasn’t able to continue previous traditions as well. 

Co-Captain Sofia Colon stated that “last year, we would usually go out to eat a lot or do pasta dinners before every game, but unfortunately we could not continue that this year.”

Each of the girls had their own setbacks as well. Varsity players Jola Olutiola, Carly Powell, and Katie Butler weren’t able to play during the season because of their commitment to club volleyball. Co-Captain Emma Illovsky also had a setback, as she had to self-quarantine as a result of a “presumed false positive” of one of her family members. Illovsky’s limited time on the court was challenging for her. “All I wanted to do was to get on the court and get as much playing time as possible for my senior year.”  

Even though the team faced challenges throughout the season, Landeck said that she is proud of the girls for their hard work and commitment. She said the girls “showed a great deal of resilience and made the most of the time we had together.”

The team shared their gratefulness for having a season at all, despite all the obstacles. “I spent most of the year wondering if I was going to be able to put on an Old Tappan uniform one more time,” Chu said. “The fact that I did means a lot to me. It was not easy, but we made it through.”