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Rise, Roar, and Triumph: Celebrating the Success of Our Volleyball Program

The 2022-23 year was truly one for the record books for our Volleyball program.

Both the Girls and Boys Varsity teams claimed the League and Playoff Championship titles of the Independent School Athletic League — and qualified for the State (NYSAIS) tournaments. These impressive accomplishments left our entire School roaring with pride!

Under the guidance of esteemed coach Tiam Chuck, known as Coach T, Dwight’s Varsity Volleyball program has soared to new heights over the last seven years, which included the addition of the Boys Varsity Volleyball Team two years ago and its incredible 2022 achievement of being the first-ever team to reach the NYSAIS competition in its inaugural year.

Over 80 players are part of our volleyball community, which welcomes student-athletes to discover and fuel their passion for the sport, and provides opportunities for them to form deeper connections.

A Look at the Spring 2023 Season
Our Lions were well prepared to face off against any opposing force to claim victory this past spring, as evidenced by the girls ending the regular season with a record of 16-4 and the boys with 15-2.

When asked about the secret to the program’s success, Coach T says, “It’s not attributable to one thing, but rather to a combination of factors that shape our volleyball culture — leading by example, developing deep bonds that translate into support on and off the court, putting in the hard work in practice and training, and making sure that all efforts reflect the goals the program.” 

Within this environment, both teams are dedicated to doing their very best. Among them are a few student-athletes who leave their mark each season. This year, veteran player Lisa Canevari ’23 not only contributed greatly to both the team’s offensive and defensive presence, but also to team morale. In recognition of “her participation, enthusiasm, and leadership in athletics,” Lisa received the Dr. M.C. Spahn Award at Graduation, which was awarded to one girl and one boy student-athlete. Olivia Wamble ’23, who has been part of our squad since her freshman year, was recognized as the team powerhouse not only by fellow athletes, but also by coaches. More veteran seniors, Layla Purovic and Mica Quelle, remained composed in the face of fierce competition, with Layla contributing several game-changing plays and Mica picking up hard hits from the opposing team. Another well-versed player, Lina Thompson ’25, really stepped up for the team by playing as a setter, a crucial element in the team’s offensive presence. All of our seniors will be missed next year, and the coaching staff looks forward to seeing more younger athletes step up for the 2024 season.

While there had been talk of forming a boys team for a while, there was never enough interest to properly field a team until 2022. Enzo Palaci Zani ’22, Daniel Barschdorff ’24, Ethan Cortez ’24, Erick Hernandez-Lopez ’24, Tom Ifrah ’24, Doyle Gwon ’25, Dylan Lytle ’25, Brody Shuffler ’25, Zach Wolf ’25, and Daniel Born de Andres ’26 were the original members of the team; because of their passion and commitment, the number of players doubled in 2023. Much like their counterparts on the girls team, the boys were inspired to achieve personal success, while also motivating and rallying their fellow teammates. This was exemplified during a game vs. Brooklyn Friends this year: the team was down 18-24 with their opponents needing just one point to win, but our Lions stayed strong and players supported each other resulting in a 28-26 turnaround win. Junior Daniel Barschdorff kept his serve in play even under duress and made some strong attacks at the ball; while the newest addition to the roster, Alex Gingold ’27, was essential to the defense. Ethan Cortez and Daniel Born de Andres both made sure to provide clean sets to our offense from any pass that came their way. Zach Wolf shut down the opposition with several blocks and also delivered powerful swings; and Tom Ifrah, an all-around player, made the best plays in all scenarios while also lifting the team’s spirit. 

Through the skills and camaraderie developed on the court to the lessons taken off the court, volleyball at Dwight is a second home — a family affair — which is what Coach T always wanted to see and helped to build. This translates into parents and family members who are invested and eager to cheer on and support players and the Volleyball program in general. One parent shared, “The team has done wonders for my child! Ever since they joined the team, their confidence has improved and they have friends from other grades that they would have never had the chance to befriend, if not for this team.” 

As the school year drew to a close, some members of the girls and the boys teams gathered for one last hurrah and some friendly competition in the Dwight School Athletic Center. It was important to Coach T that everyone come together not only for tradition, but also to relish all the memories from the past year. We look forward to seeing what’s next for Dwight’s Volleyball program when the girls begin preseason training next month. Go LIONS!