The Kennedy High School Eagles girl’s volleyball team lost in three sets to the John Swett High School Indians in a game in Crockett on Thursday.
Noise and movement filled the gym even before the game began. The Eagles’ warm-ups were littered with dance moves as fast beats played over the sound system and fans cheered and chatted from the stands.
Assistant Coach Chris Pierce—who grew up in Richmond and returned to the city from Washington, D.C. last year for a social studies teaching position at Kennedy High School—said his spirits were high, especially following Tuesday’s close game against Richmond High.
But Swett started quickly and dominated the first set on the way to a 25-8, 25-18, 25-9 victory.
The team didn’t serve or set well this game, head coach Lisa Schaaf said. “We had no communication and we weren’t calling any balls,” she said. “It’s the little things.”
Though they could not match the Indians this game, the girls’ energy and connection as players is evident in their support for one another. When they aren’t on the court, the girls sit on the sidelines and cheer for their fellow teammates.
For the Cooks sisters — Marshai, a junior, and Monique, a senior—that connection goes even deeper. Their harmony as athletes is hard to miss. Not only do the two look alike, but they exhibit the same fearlessness and aggression on the court.
As Monique served in the second game, her sister sat in rapt attention on the sidelines, fists clenched and feet dancing. In the third game, both girls dove down the line to try and save a Swett drive, and although neither succeeded they ended up sprawled near each other on the floor, then quickly popped up for the next play. During another rally, Monique made a long reach for a successful bump, which her sister then spiked to score a point for the Eagles.
In the stands, the girls’ mother, Melinda Clark, leaned forward and shouted words of encouragement like “Let’s go girls!” Though she said she admires her daughters’ athleticism, she also said she makes sure they know that winning isn’t everything.
“For me, it’s just important that they have fun and play a good game,” she said.
The Cooks sisters left the gym with their mom after the game, likely headed home to dissect the game, like they always do, Clark said.
Schaaf provided her own analysis: the first-year coach said the team needs to focus on serving under pressure, teamwork, communication and court placement before its next match, at Pinole Valley on Tuesday.