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Hopewell Girls Volleyball Success Continuing With their Junior High Program

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Tradition for a high school is something to be a proud of, especially when it’s a winning tradition for a sports program.

That’s certainly the case when you’re talking about the Hopewell High School Girls volleyball program. Not many teams can boast that they’ve qualified for the playoffs 25 straight seasons, but the Vikings girls’ volleyball team can.

This past season, head coach Terry Borkovic and his program qualified for the 2023 WPIAL Girls Volleyball playoffs, which made it 25 straight years they’ve done that.

That’s why Borkovic is a Hall of Fame coach, and the volleyball program is something that Hopewell should be proud of.

So, how’s Borkovic been able to field a quality team year in and year out?

Well one reason is the pipeline that the Hopewell coaches are able to develop from the junior high to the high school. If any coach is able to replace players that graduate with young players that are able to step in and pick up where the seniors left off, the winning is able to continue. That’s been able to happen here at Hopewell.

Coach Borkovic is not only coaching the high school team but he’s now in charge of the Hopewell 8th grade team as well, with his assistant Lexi Thompson handling the 7th graders.

Tonight, Hopewell Sports Nation had the opportunity to talk with Thompson about the Vikings Girls Junior High Volleyball program and the progress that they’ve made. Thompson is in her 3rd season as a Hopewell assistant coach, prior to that was a player under Borkovic.

First thing I asked Coach Thompson is about the transition these players are making in moving to junior high volleyball, especially the 7th graders.

“Especially with the 7th graders, it’s hard to get them to put all the fundamentals together, said Thompson. “But as we play more together, learn and grow together after 8-9 games, they’re starting to come together. It’s different with the 8th grade team. They get it, they have all their fundamentals down and they’re really playing the game. I always tell our 7th graders to watch the 8th graders, so they’re able to see how they’re passing, passing, setting all together into one. That’s how you play volleyball.”

“For the 8th graders, Coach Borkovic definitely pushes them a bit harder in an attempt to get them to where they need to be for high school next season. 7th and 8th graders do practice together but when he takes the 8th graders to the side, he’s working to get them ready for high school.”

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Having coached these 8th graders last season, it’s been fun for Thompson to watch these girls improve from where they were one year ago.

“I started them out in 7th grade and now watching Coach Borkovic take them over in 8th grade, there’s definitely a huge difference,” said Thompson. “They’re quicker to think what they need to do. They have a better reaction time, they know it’s coming, they know it’s coming fast. I would say their mental game has greatly improved and knowing what they need to do to get it done.”

Thompson was very complimentary of both the 7th and 8th grade teams in the progress that they’ve made.

The Vikings 8th grade team is coming off two big recent wins over both South Fayette and Quaker Valley. All in all, the 8th graders have collected 4 wins this season. HSN asked Thompson to name a few 7th and 8th graders that have stood out to her this season.

“I’d say our two setters, Teagan Murray and Sydney Malackanich, they’ve really improved and are getting the balls out of their hands faster and more accurately to their hitters, learning when they need to tip it. Another person I’d say is Hannah McDowell. She’s a tall girl and has really improved form a year ago. She’s learning how to use her height; she’s hitting it really hard now and has improved a lot.”

“As far as 7th graders, now that we’ve played a bit and some of these girls have been able to develop, I’d say Ava Ray, she’s my Libero. At the beginning, I was thinking of making her my center but I switched into making her my Libero. She’s really gotten better and made me feel really good about her. I’d also say Lily Enders, she’s my middle hitter. She has an arm on her. If she can learn to control her body and the timing of the hitting, she can really kill that ball. Also, Bella Cipolla. She’s always a hard worker and not afraid to do what she needs to do to keep the ball up and in play.”

As we wrapped up our conversation, being a former player and now a coach, I asked Coach Thompson why Hopewell has been able to sustain the winning over the past 25 seasons? Some schools have a talented class of athletes but once they graduate, it’s hard to maintain the winning. That’s not happened with Hopewell Girls Volleyball, why?

“What makes Hopewell Volleyball what it is, I played for Coach Borkovic for five years and he will do whatever he can to make his players succeed,” said Thompson. “Under him, you work hard, you come together as a family. That’s our big thing.”

“When we break, we say ‘Family on Three’. We never say anything else because we are one and we need to play as one. I believe that’s a huge thing; we play together and never get down on each other. It’s always about team and bringing players together.”

The Hopewell Girls Volleyball program has matches this week at Eden Christian Academy on Wednesday and at Avonworth on Friday. Their 2024 season will conclude next Friday at home against Montour.

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