Comradery: The Secret Ingredient

As the Stuyvesant girls’ junior varsity volleyball team ends their season, it’s evident that it is their companionship helping to push them over the edge.

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By Madelyn Li Nunez

What is something that the Bayard Rustin Titans and the Stuyvesant Warriors have in common? Besides the obvious (girls’ junior varsity volleyball teams), both teams have won against the High School of Fashion Industries’ girls junior varsity volleyball team. Moreover, both won with a score of 2-0. Are the two evenly matched teams, or did their opponent only make it seem so?

The MVP of the Titans’ game against Fashion was Lucia Mora Teixeira, with four aces and 15 service points. The MVP of the Warriors’ game against Fashion was freshman right-side Onyx Jamalden, with six aces and nine service points. Bayard Rustin’s game against Fashion wasn’t close at all, with an average match difference of 15 points, while Stuyvesant’s game had an average match difference of eight. There was only a five-day span between the Titans’ game and the Warriors’. Was that extra training time enough to push the Titans to excellence?

These were the types of questions whirling around in my head as I took the C train to the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex to watch these two teams face off. I walked in toward the end of the first match, and the energy seemed quite low, despite the small crowd there in support of the Titans.

Stuyvesant won the first match 25-23. Despite the win, head coach Howard Barbin knew they could do better. As a result, he switched the outsides, an insightful move. With a flurry of tips and hits, the Warriors were able to gain a quick lead. It was fantastic to see the team’s sportsmanship, cheering on the newer players when they made a good play. The Warriors had a marvelous lead, which forced the opposition to call a timeout.

Displays of initiative and encouragement were especially noticeable from the sophomore captains Amy Wang, Estella Yee, Maddy Nunez, and Anoushka Knowles, who each led various cheers, both on and off the court. “We would not be a successful team without their leadership,” Barbin said.

“It’s really nice to have a team to go back to. When you join a sports team, especially as a freshman, you get a sense of community, a sense of people and friends. It’s great to have that from the beginning, even before school starts,” Jamalden said. It’s evident that the family that Jamalden has found with the Warriors has played a role in their decision to continue their volleyball career.

The Warriors won the second match with a nine-point victory. The opposing team’s coach was visibly upset, with a rather intense after-game talk, starkly contrasting coach Barbin’s calm get-together, hyping up the team for their tournament the following Saturday. Wide smiles were seen all around as the team recorded a final STUY cheer. After watching this game, I think that comradery is what makes a team. It is the secret ingredient that made the difference between these seemingly evenly-matched teams, pushing Stuyvesant over the edge.

The Warriors have been undefeated so far this season. Though the girls’ junior varsity volleyball team doesn’t have playoffs, they have their final game on November 10 against the Hunter High School Hawks, whom the Warriors lost to last year. With their daily practices, they hope to change that this year. “By far the best JV volleyball team I have coached,” Barbin said. He is incredibly proud of these Warriors.