Although the outcome of their senior night match with visiting Patuxent High School did not go as well as planned, especially after taking the opening set, senior members of the La Plata High School volleyball team and their coach viewed the three games to one setback to the Panthers as virtually inconsequential to the occasion.
La Plata seniors Savannah Olson, Raegan Perry, Emma Vanden Berg and Maddie Wimmer were all honored by Warriors’ second-year coach Christine Owens prior to the match against Patuxent, and they emerged from the celebration on an emotional high. In fact, after a modest start to the match the Warriors took the first set from the Panthers 25-20.
“I really can’t say enough about this group of seniors,” Owens said. “None of them had the chance to play last year or even got much playing time the year before. But they’ve all been so willing to learn anything that I’ve taught them. They have also really done everything they could to make the junior varsity girls feel like part of the team.”
Vanden Berg, who garnered the 2A state championship in the discus as a freshman in 2019, was not about to let the outcome of the match sour her senior night celebration. Vanden Berg and her senior teammates may have been foiled in their plans for an extended celebration, but they could still earn a berth in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championship game against either Huntingtown or Leonardtown.
“It meant a lot to all of us just to be able to have this night,” Vanden Berg said. “Last year we didn’t even have a season and the year before we had a lot of seniors. So, just to be able to have a season and be able to have this senior night meant a lot. We came out really strong that first set and we were hoping to keep it going, but we got beat by a good team.”
While the quartet of La Plata seniors and their younger teammates were able to ride the emotional high of their pregame celebration to a 25-20 victory in the first set, closing out that game on a 9-1 run, the Warriors were unable to sustain the momentum moving forward. Patuxent took the next three sets 25-16, 25-20 and 25-22 to close out the match and spoil the Warriors’ senior night to come extent.
“Once the match started and we were playing well together, I don’t think the outcome really mattered too much,” Perry said. “We were so grateful to be able to have this night. A lot of the seniors who were here last year didn’t have a season and didn’t get to have a senior night. So for us to be able to have a season and have this season night was really special.”