Girls’ volleyball team reflects on the growth of the program



The volleyball team huddles close in preparation for their game

Ava Blair

Within the last decade, the girls’ volleyball team has grown to have several of its players commit to colleges across the country. Five former players from the team have committed to play college volleyball in the past four years. This does not include current senior Nya Bunton, who is committed to play for the number one college in the country, the University of Texas, starting next school year. There are another four athletes currently in the program with possible college offers. 

This growth began when Richard Weaver entered the program as head coach in 2019. 

“When I first came in, the program was already in a really good spot. I mean accredit to the coaches who were here before,” Weaver said. “It was still viewed as that small public school who could win some games but you weren’t expected to win against the bigger teams in the state.” 

Weaver had been coaching volleyball for eight seasons before coming to Manual, most previously coaching and recruiting for Bellarmine. He explained that having college experience helped him better understand the sport on the court. Meanwhile, off the court, it helped him understand what colleges are looking for in athletes, which helps get players in the program ready for the next level. 

“You look back and every kid in your huddle could go play at the next level,” Weaver said.

Even with the influx of talent, Weaver believes the most important part of the program is the culture and RamFam. RamFam is a program where freshmen get paired up with an upperclassman. This allows each freshman to have a mentor throughout the whole season, which goes alongside one of the program’s pillars: family. The program is based on five pillars: Honesty, Accountability, Trust, Integrity and Family. 

“I’d say family was kind of our fifth one because you capture everything else we believe in with it,” Weaver said.

The current seniors have experienced this growth firsthand, being the first class to have Weaver as head coach. “Having Richard as a new coach coming in freshman year, the program has like developed so much as far as like culture; our culture’s great,” Berkley Humphries (12, #12) said. She also explained how there is a support system within the team and how much the team feels like a family. 

Everyone in the program seems to value the feeling of family and support. Even the underclassmen have experienced the feeling of family in the program. 

Abby Gentner (10, #20) said, “I’ve literally made some of my best friends on these teams and we all are truly like a family.”

“The team is like a family, we have great sportsmanship and cheer each other on every time,” Nadia Bishop (9, #18) said. 

During the pre-season, the team got together to watch and support Nya Bunton (12, #5), who was playing for the United States 19U Junior National Team. Bunton explained how the program has helped improve her communication skills and other mental aspects of the game with the growing family-like support system. 

“Honestly, I think it just feels more teamlike. When I first came, it was like we were trying to build our culture,” Bunton said.

The team entered the season with a lot of talented returning players and gifted new players, so there are high expectations. Weaver explained that winning district and then region seven are obvious goals for the team. Winning these would allow the team to compete at state for the first time in program history. However, he also believes that the team needs to focus on achieving a small goal each day while putting forth their best effort. The girls also need to be vulnerable enough to make mistakes and learn from them on the court and during practice.

“If we look too much at the end and an end goal, we’ll never get done what we need to do to get there,” Weaver said.

Throughout this season and previous seasons, the team has given players opportunities to become better. It is a place for players to grow and become more successful, all while becoming a second family. 

“No matter who you are in this program, from your All American Nya Bunton, to a freshman who might not even play club but found a way to get on the team because of things they’ve done, everyone has a value to the program and no one is treated differently or special.” Weaver said.