Girls volleyball team wins district championship

In+the+game+against+Fort+Meyers%2C+Sophomore+Lucy+Pellenbarg+hits+the+ball+over+the+net.+

Tammy Nguyen

In the game against Fort Meyers, Sophomore Lucy Pellenbarg hits the ball over the net.

As they step on the court, there is focus on their eyes, and victory on their minds. They spent countless hours of practice, training, conditioning, and even doing 19 suicide sprints during a serving drill. It was rocky in the beginning, with a new coach, a smaller team, and around three games per week, but the girls volleyball team did not only overcome those challenges, but went further than they have in many years.

The varsity volleyball team started off the 2020 season strong, as they achieved win after win. With only one game lost against Strawberry Crest 3-1 sets, they advanced to districts with a total of 10 wins. Their first playoff game was against East Bay, which they had already defeated back on Sept. 24 on their senior night. They then proceeded through districts, and on Oct. 15, the Hillsborough High School Volleyball team won the championship against Leto and became the district champions for the first time in decades.

Eager to continue their journey further, the girls then advanced into regionals, where they faced even more challenging teams. After a win against Armwood at home on the first round of regionals, they played Plant city on the semi-finals on Oct. 28, and moved on to finals vs Ft. Meyers on Saturday, Oct. 31.

“It was definitely our hardest and most competitive game of the season,” sophomore Lucy Pellenbarg said. Although they had a lead during the first two sets, their main setter Angelica Ruiz was injured with a sprained ankle. That caused the team struggles, and they were not able to get back on track.

“The only way to get a kill is with a great defensive play that sets up a great set so that we even have the ability to get a point,” Pellenbarg said. Pellenbarg is a middle hitter, but recognizes that good teamwork is necessary in order to make up a good play, and all positions play a huge role in getting the point.

Besides being very skilled players on their own, the girls were also able to work together to improve and accomplish more than the volleyball team has ever seen. “I loved being able to play with the team and I felt really close with all of the girls. Practices, games, and team meals were all a lot of fun and there was never a dull moment. We were truly a team this year,” junior Lauren Novorska said.

Not only becoming district champions for the first time in many years, the team also moved to regional finals for the first time in Hillsborough history. With a season filled with 15 victories and a new trophy for display, the 2020 volleyball season comes to an end.