This year's Forest Glen Middle School seventh grade girls' volleyball team broke school intramural sports history and led the city among both seventh and eighth grade girls' volleyball teams with an undefeated season. Back row from left, Ashley Bido, Emily Campbell, Kaitlyn Robertson, Makayla Dickens and Morgan Baines. Front row from left, Danielle Huffman, Samantha Myers, Sara Matthews, Maya Riddick and Alexandra Kinsey.

Young FGMS team goes undefeated

Published 9:39pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Forest Glen Middle School seventh grade girls’ volleyball team started the season as beginners to the sport, but finished the year with the only undefeated record in the city among seventh- and eighth-grade teams.

The Wildcats’ 6-0 record also marked the first time a volleyball team, whether boys or girls, went undefeated at Forest Glen since the inception of its intramural sports program.

Jacqueline Stephenson has served as coach of the seventh grade girls’ volleyball team at Forest Glen for four years and explained how they made the successful season happen.

“I think the girls gave it their all, and I think that they were very intelligent in strategic planning on where to serve the ball, where to bump the ball in back, too — that helped them win a lot,” she said.

The unprecedented run is all the more impressive when Stephenson describes its origins in the brief preseason of middle school volleyball.

“We just do tryouts and one day of practice, and then we start the games in the following the week,” Stephenson said.

Wildcats team member Morgan Baines affirmed the difficulties involved with this schedule when she described the biggest challenge that the season posed to her.

“Really just being new to (volleyball) and trying to know what you’re doing,” she said. “Definitely getting the ball over the net. That was our biggest challenge.”

Baines and teammate Ashley Bido had virtually no experience.

“Just playing in the backyard,” Bido said.

There was a dramatic change, however, in a very short period of time.

“At tryouts, I had people that could not serve it over the net, but by the next week and a half, they were serving,” Stephenson said. “So, I think they went home and practiced it a lot.”

As the season progressed, it was not without its close calls, particularly against John Yeates Middle School.

“That was pressure, because we went to three sets, and you had to be up by two points to (win), and I had to get the last point over the net,” Baines said.

At the outset of the season, Bido said, the team was motivated by a desire to not let Coach Stephenson down.

“It was really hard before, because she had told us before we had played and she was like, ‘I really hope that we’re undefeated this year.’ And it was like, ‘Well, we don’t want to upset her or anything about that,’” Bido said.

Stephenson’s goals were mostly focused on the girls learning a new skill and having fun with it. The squad of 10 girls showed such dramatic improvement over previous years’ teams that Stephenson, also a health and physical education teacher, was compelled to confer with her colleagues to determine the likely cause.

“We can’t really pinpoint anything that we’re doing in class, so we’re leaning more toward their athletic (ability),” she said.

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