The team gatherings happened early in the summer and they never stopped.
The members of the Academy at Palumbo girls volleyball team always enters a season prepared to face the best teams in the city. And the 2023 season was no different as the Griffins started working up a good sweat in the summer months to prepare for the big matches.
“There are a lot of seniors on this team but there’s also a good amount of younger girls on varsity and JV,” said senior co-captain Telise Davis-Carter. “I’ve been practicing with them since August so I saw them come in, first time touching a volleyball, to winning JV games. Just seeing their growth has been the best part. I really enjoy being captain this year for this group of girls.”
It’s been a recipe of success under Palumbo coach Ej Goldstein, who has guided the girls program to five Philadelphia Public League titles during his tenure, with their most recent coming in 2021.
“It’s been pretty great because we all work with each other and there’s no drama,” said senior co-captain Sarenda-Tyra Robinson. “It’s a great environment. We have open gyms that start a month into the summer and girls are committed enough to spend half of their summer to play. It’s a big thing for us.”
The Griffins are once again enjoying a successful season and were 10-2 following a match at Archbishop Ryan High School on Oct. 9. The Griffins seem to have a knack of being in contention for titles this time of the year.
“I feel like it’s Goldstein,” senior Ruby Stone said. “He’s good at finding positions for people and building them up to where they should be. So when there is a big group of seniors that leave, the program isn’t stuck. That’s why we’re so successful.”
The coach can lead, but the players must follow. Palumbo players buy in 100 percent.
“We have a lot of individuals who will put in a ton of work to make themselves better, which helps the team,” said Davis-Carter, who is enjoying her captaincy role. “It’s helped me grow a lot as a player. I also play club volleyball in New Jersey but the most help I’ve gotten is from Goldstein. A lot of my work as a player has been with him one on one as my coach. It’s been really exciting. We’ve had our lows but I’ve been around long enough to experience the highs.”
The Griffins are hoping there are more highs to come, possibly in the form of another PPL title this fall. They’ve put in the work. They’re hoping it pays off.
“Starting early in the summer was really nice because I felt like we built a bond with each other,” Stone said. “This team particularly, I feel like we’re all really close, which has helped our chemistry.”
But even if this season doesn’t end with a championship, future Palumbo teams will look back on the 2023 season as a building block for what’s to come. A foundation for the next three years has already been formed thanks to the senior leadership this season.
“It’s really great to see the freshmen come in and start working,” Robinson said. “We’re seeing their potential and the future for us. It’s great to see them being committed as young as they are, coming into our program and seeing what we are and what they can possibly want to do.”