Indoor teams get another chance in ‘Season Three’ addition

Indoor+teams+get+another+chance+in+%27Season+Three%27+addition

Meg DeTitta

The newly created “Season 3” for high school sports is coming to a close this week. The sports included girls volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling. All were moved to a special “Season 3” under the guidelines of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The volleyball and wrestling seasons are finishing with a state tournament. Volleyball will only compete up to their section and nothing further. Wrestling will compete with others in their weight class, in groups divided by the NJSIAA.

Practices began under NJSIAA guidelines on March 1. Competitions began on March 16 and ended on April 24. Competition is allowed three times per week and nothing more. Girls’ volleyball and gymnastics were moved to Season 3 at the end of August 2020, and were separated from the fall sports season, after being named medium-risk sports in response to the pandemic. Wrestling was moved soon after and was separated from the winter sports season, after being named a high-risk sport.

Competitions were set only between two teams, which was subject to change, but never did.

Westwood Girls Volleyball had a successful season, finishing with an overall record of 10-5 and making it all the way to their state sectional semi-final match for the first time in over a decade, where they fell to Sparta High School in two sets. The Cardinals were seated fifth in their section and the Spartans were seated first.

Westwood Wrestling earned a record of 3-4 with Senior Captain Ethan Fernandez finishing fourth in the state for his weight class.

Fernandez is a stellar wrestler both at Westwood High School and for his club team. “I wasn’t afraid of not having a season as much as I was worried about not having the opportunity to compete at the state tournament,” he says.

A postponed and shortened season for both sports was a difficult switch, but the team members for both teams appreciated their chance to play. And of course, in such unprecedented times, both teams were afraid of suddenly never being able to play for their team again.

“I had doubts the entire time leading up to the season that we wouldn’t play at all. It’s scary and sad as a senior. I was just hoping I’d be able to play my sport. It didn’t seem fair at times that our season had to be shortened but eventually I learned to work with what I got and to truly be thankful,” Senior Captain of the girls’ volleyball team, Olivia Bereza, says.

The volleyball and wrestling team both experienced possible exposure and had to quarantine, cutting their season even shorter than before. One could imagine the difficulty of coming back from that, but each team had their hopes.

“That day we got sent home in the middle of our practice and we all kind of formed a saying: ‘Stay positive, test negative.’ That definitely helped the team morale,” Fernandez says.

“After our season got cut short due to that quarantine, we just knew that every single game and practice we had to go all out because it could happen at any time. We learned to play every game like it’s our last and to truly appreciate being on the court for a season,” Bereza says. Bereza will continue her athletic and educational career at Stockton University to play Division III volleyball. 

Westwood volleyball demonstrated their passion and love for the sport in such crazy times, especially in the quarterfinal state game against Indian Hills, where Westwood won 2-1 after falling to the Braves in the first set.