WATERTOWN – In this day and age, high school varsity teams often adopt a motto or phrase to surround their team for the season. A lot of teams will used the word family, to create a sense of belonging and cohesiveness with their squads.
While other teams can adopt this this motto, the Watertown-Mayer volleyball team is living it. With three sets of sisters on this year’s varsity team, the Royals are truly a family.
“It’s interesting,” W-M coach Andrea Raser said about having three sets of sisters on the team. “It’s always funny to see. Of course, they know each other so well, and they bring that to the court.”
While having your sister on the court with you can help with some communication during matches on the floor, Raser also sees it as an opportunity for communication between plays that might not happen for other teams.
“It helps the dynamic because you can say something to your sister that maybe somebody else on the court might not say to you,” Raser said. “It keeps us on our toes a little bit. It keeps the girls honest with each other. Teams say they are family. Well, half of our team is family. When you have someone that is out there who you can look at and tell them let’s do this or that, and they’re going to say it straight up, I think that makes our team better because they can do that.”
The Royals lost five seniors from last year’s team who led them to back-to-back state tournament appearances. Even with those five players gone, the Royals are back once again. Their team chemistry is certainly a big reason for their return.
“Us coaches, as the season progressed, saw how tight this group of girls was,” Raser said. “It’s not just exciting to go to the state tournament, but we’re so excited for these girls to continue to play together. They just truly enjoy hanging out with each other and playing together. They play as a team. To see them able to get to do that longer, that’s super exciting.”
Playing with your sister has a lot of positives, and some negatives. There’s time where one will get frustrated, but in the end, things all work out.
“It’s not always a good thing because sometimes we get mad and yell at each other, but it’s all out of love,” junior Paige Thibault said. “In the end, we just play for each other, especially the sisters. We don’t want to be done because there’s lots of sisters that are seniors.”
Paige Thibault, along with freshman libero Kate Thibault, is one of the sets of sisters for the Royals this season. The other two are Kailey and Ashley Olson, and Ella and Lauren Foley. While those six have a certain chemistry with each other, the other members of the team feel part of the family, as well, whether good or bad.
“It’s funny watching all the sisters interact and argue sometimes,” sophomore setter Natalie Ernhart said. “I think it actually brings us all together. All of us are different.”
As a family, the Royals will step onto the court at the Xcel Energy Center Thursday evening for the Class AA state tournament. They’ll do so as they’ve done all season long, knowing their roles and playing for each other.
“I think it will be so much fun,” Ernhart said. “Our team dynamic is crazy good. We’re all super excited. Everyone plays a big role on this team, and everyone knows their role. Everyone feels good about this year, and we’re excited.”
“I’m really proud of my team especially,” Thibault said. “Even though we did lose a lot of players from last year, that doesn’t define this team. This is a completely different team. I think that shows a lot about our program. It’s building up, and I’m really proud of our team this year.”