When the members of this year’s varsity volleyball team were freshmen, they knew their senior year was going to be their year.
Now that senior year has arrived, and the Severna Park High School varsity volleyball team sits at 5-0 and is eyeing an undefeated season and a state title run.
“I would just say that together we are all more experienced; we know each other very well. We are more determined,” said senior captain Adriana Castille. “Ever since freshman year we knew we were going to be amazing senior year, so we are working really hard now.”
Last year’s team, which did not include any seniors, finished at 9-6. This year, with the return of three-time state champion coach Tim Dunbar, the team is undefeated and looking to make a run.
“Well I think this year we are all kind of unsure about what was going to happen because we haven’t had to switch coaches before,” said senior Abbie Hoekstra. "But it clicked the first practice. He is really understanding and can relate to us. So we feel more comfortable on and off the court.”
Dunbar, a teacher at Severna Park High, coached the volleyball team for 16 years in the 80s and 90s. He spent three years at the JV level and 13 coaching varsity. During his tenure the team won three state titles—and this year’s team is well aware of the success they could achieve.
“I never set those kind of goals,” Dunbar said. “In the back of my mind I would like to be competitive enough to do those things, but that’s not what we are striving for. We want the girls to be the best volleyball players they can. We want them to excel. I feel like with their skills, if they excel, winning is going to take care of itself.”
What is perhaps most unique about Dunbar is his understanding of teenage girls. From a conversation before practice centering on a tournament the same day as the homecoming dance, to the team posing for a photo—it is obvious he understands the girls.
“He is very approachable and friendly,” said Hoekstra. “We all feel like he understands us.”
Dunbar credits his two daughters for his understanding of the teenage girl psyche.
“By having two teenage girls I have learned the parenting side of what teenage girls go through and I have learned more on how they respond and do things,” Dunbar said. “As sensitive as you can be, you don’t get it until you have teenage girls themselves.”
Dunbar added, “I’ll tell my girls something about the team and they will say, ‘Oh dad you can’t do that.’ So I guess I have a better perspective on that as much as anything.”
When asked about this year’s teams success Dunbar said he isn’t surprised they are successful, but more intrigued by the ways they are successful. He said from tryouts he knew the team was athletic and moved well on the court, but he has seen different people step up in ways he hadn’t expected.
With three state titles to his name, Dunbar certainly knows what it takes to go all the way—even if he said he doesn’t set those kinds of goals. He knows what it takes and he said he sees similarities in this year’s squad to a previous championship team.
“I think this team reminds me a lot of the 1992 team,” Dunbar said. “They had a lot of solid players and a lot of bench depth. It was competitive to get time on the court so they worked really hard and forced everyone to work hard. There is a lot of depth on this team and we can go pretty deep. We will see where that takes us.”