The GDS women’s varsity volleyball team won the DC State Athletic Association championships (DCSAA) on Nov. 10 for the second year in a row, beating Jackson-Reed 3–0. Prior to winning the DCSAA championship, GDS lost to Flint Hill 3–0 in the Independent School League (ISL) finals on Nov. 2.
Although Jackson-Reed had a 22–3 season record and was the number one seed in DC, GDS was able to pull through and win three straight sets, securing the state title for the second year in a row. This year, GDS had a 5–2 league record and a 13–2 overall season record.
The game was held at Howard University. GDS won the first point of the match and was able to keep a two-point lead the entire first set. Senior Clara Yu and junior Jada Aksu made strategic moves to gain points during the first set, and the team won 25–13.
The second set had the longest rallies. Sophomore Gigi Wigglesworth ended the set with strong blocking and GDS won 25–18.
During the last set, GDS was up 6–0 in the first two minutes. Yu served for the entirety of those points. Sophomore Tessa Fergusson and Aksu had some powerful spikes, bumping the score up to 11–0. Senior Aaliyah Howell and Wigglesworth had back-to-back hits and junior Shiraz Benyoucef dove left and right for balls. Aksu ended the set with a strong spike and GDS won 25–11.
The fan section was filled with students, parents and faculty. “Thank you so much to the unbelievable support from the student body,” head coach Brandon Weist said after the game. “It means a ton to the team as a whole and makes them play way better. I am glad as a volleyball team to bring excitement, and it takes a rather special community to support a women’s sport in the way GDS does and I am really proud of the team here.”
Prior to winning the DCSAA championship, GDS played Flint Hill in the Independent School League (ISL) finals on Nov. 2. Flint Hill won 3–0.
Flint Hill had an ISL conference record of 7–0 and a 17–1 overall season record. The match was played at GDS, and the stands were filled with students, teachers and parents from both schools. The game was rather intense and consisted of long rallies, but Flint Hill won three straight sets, earning the title of AA Division ISL champions. AA is the highest division in ISL.
Flint Hill started the game strong, leading 6–1 in the first two minutes of the first set. Howell and junior Zoe Ryu were hitting well in the first set, winning several points for GDS. Aksu and Fergusson were heavily blocking, also securing many points for GDS. At the 17-minute mark, Flint Hill was leading 21–12. Flint Hill closed out the set with a score of 25–17.
The second set started out close, with Flint Hill leading 6–4 in the first few minutes, but GDS was able to tie the set 8–8. Ryu was the dominant player of the second set, hitting points back to back. The score of the set remained close, but Flint Hill pulled through, winning 25–19.
The third set was the most intense because Flint Hill had already won the first two sets. GDS won the first two points of the third set, and then Flint Hill was able to gain a few points.
Flint Hill’s star libero, Evie Huang, fell and got injured during the third set, stopping game play for several minutes when the score was 11–11. GDS managed to get up by one, 13–12, for the first time in the game. Senior Jocelyn Torres brought GDS back into the lead with two strong serves, boosting the score to 20–18. Flint Hill was finally able to win the set 25–23, which was the closest set of the game.
“I am really proud of how we played but specifically in the third set,” Yu said after the game. She continuously put effort into getting to the ball, making smart plays with her placement of the ball and setting the hitters to get electric spikes.
Wiest, the reigning All-Met Coach of the Year, said of the game, “There was an amazing team on the other side of the net, and I’m proud that we did not shy away and stayed aggressive the whole match.”
CORRECTION (Nov. 21 at 4:22 p.m.): A previous version of this article misspelled Jada Aksu’s last name. It also mistakenly referred to Shiraz Benyoucef as a sophomore. She is a junior.