Cima, Saints seeing persistence pay off on volleyball court

Neumann-Goretti’s Victoria Cima digs a shot in a win over Monsignor-Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast on Sept. 19. Photo/Mark Zimmaro
Neumann-Goretti’s Victoria Cima digs a shot in a win over Monsignor-Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast on Sept. 19. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Victoria Cima remembers her first big varsity moment in the sport of volleyball. The Neumann-Goretti High School senior was just a freshman and scored her first point in a big match.

“I liked it a lot but I wasn’t the best at it,” Cima said with a laugh. “I used to be a setter, and I remember I was never able to set very well. But it sparked an interest and I tried out for the team in high school and I made the team. My first game, I got a kill and it was such an exciting moment. Now I just love the sport.”

At that moment, she was hooked. And she loves the sport even more that her high school team is finding its way in the tough Philadelphia Catholic League. The Saints knocked off West Catholic and Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast to win two of their first three games this season.

“We’ve been in the gym and we’ve been working hard,” said first year Saints coach Kevin Villec. “The vibes have been good and the players have been keeping their heads up high. They are great volleyball players. They just needed to realize their potential and I think they are starting to realize that.”

Vienna Coccia of Neumann-Goretti leaps high for a kill in a match on Sept. 19. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Similar to Cima’s epiphany after a kill in sixth grade, the Saints are realizing they can compete in the Catholic League, especially after a 3-1 victory at home over Bonner-Prendie on Sept. 19. The sets were close, the Saints came through in the clutch.

“I feel like everybody has been doing a great job this year,” said Cima, a four-year varsity player. “Everyone has a part and everybody helps each other out. Everybody does a great job.”

Cima is one of the main pillars as the team’s libero and senior captain. The Packer Park resident’s volleyball skills are supreme and her work ethic is tough to match. Cima is also a member of her school’s cheerleading squad, and juggles both teams during the fall. She’s also part of her school’s Ambassadors Club, Yearbook Club and Student Council. It doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

(From left) Dami Charrafi, Caitlyn Coghlan and Gianna Capelli talk with a referee during a break in the action during a win over Monsignor-Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast on Sept. 19. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“I’m going to go home and do my homework now.” Cima said after the victory over Bonner-Prendie. “It’s a lot but I try to prioritize everything and get stuff done in my free time. Somehow, it all works out.”

Just like it does on the court for the Saints. Cima doesn’t have to worry about setting as Caitlyn Coghlan handles that duty quite well. Vienna Coccia, Destiny Potts and Dami Charrafi and Sophia Guokas are strong around the net while Gianna Capelli and Kaitlyn Foy are steady backline players. The Saints have put in the hours and now they’re realizing their potential. Villec had a feeling his team would compete harder than recent years. Prior to this season, Neumann-Goretti had only managed a total of nine wins over its last six full PCL seasons.

Sophia Guokas lobs the ball over the net for Neumann-Goretti in a match on Sept. 19. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

“I had really high expectations from the start,” Villec said. “I think we can make the playoffs and do something that hasn’t been done in I don’t know how long. They’ve been on board with that from the start and they’ve done a great job living up to the expectations.”

Cima and the older players have experienced the losses. Now they are enjoying the wins.

“It really makes me happy because I love this program and I love this team,” Cima said. “And I’m glad to see it succeed, especially seeing all the girls so happy after a win.”