PHOENIXVILLE – The Phoenixville Area High School girls volleyball team celebrated not just a victory over Antietam, but the end of the road for seniors Chelsea Gadecki and Danielle Vallino on Monday night, Oct. 15.
“ was really important to me, so I’m glad we won,” Vallino said. “This is my first high school sports team. I’m going to miss the camaraderie and the feeling of being a part of something.”
The varsity team won convincingly over Antietam, needing just three games in the best-of-five format, with wins of 25-20, 25-16 and 25-12.
“We start from one level and we just keeping going up and up and up,” Gadecki said.
Things were much closer for the junior varsity team. The Phantoms dropped the first set, 21-25, but with the help of freshman Natalie Dependhal’s seven consecutive aces, they won the second game, 25-18, and finished off with a 15-11 victory in the last game.
The first season ended for the ladies with a loss Tuesday against Perkiomen Valley to close out the varsity season with a 4-9 record.
Recalling the first game of the season, both coaches Laura Howard and Julie Cordingley couldn’t help but laugh and admitted to being a mess.
“It’s been overwhelming at times,” Howard said. “The girls that we have are amazing. They have improved so much. It’s laughable now thinking back how far they have really come. Even other coaches and refs have told us that.”
After years of girls asking about starting a volleyball team, it finally came together this year for Phoenixville.
“The stars just aligned with the fact that Mrs. Howard and I said we would do it,” Cordingley said.
Expecting to only have a varsity team with 10 girls, the coaches were shocked at the turnout.
“We had JV and varsity and 27 players,” Howard said. “It was pretty remarkable. We achieved our three-year goal in the first year.”
Gadecki, who moved to the area her freshman year from New Jersey, was happy to finally have the opportunity to play volleyball, but the season was bittersweet for her and Vallino.
“Unfortunately, it is my last year, but it’s better than never,” Gadecki said. “I love this team so much and it was great winning our Senior Night. It feels so great to be a part of this team.”
Junior Lucy Bauer was named captain, but Howard and Cordingley felt the two seniors also played a vital role in the leadership of the team.
“They both were leaders on and off the court,” Howard said. “The team really respects them and appreciated their heart.”
The coaches are already planning for the next season and the future with hopes of creating a feeder program in the middle school, but are also sad at the thought of losing Gadecki and Vallino.
“I wish we could keep them around because I think that we would see great things in the future,” Howard said. “I have no doubt they are both going places. They’re great girls and are going to have very successful lives, whether they play volleyball or not.”