The first-year head coach held a team meeting right before the Colonials game against Dover on Thursday

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New Oxford boys' volleyball coach Rachel Booth gave her players a homework assignment Wednesday night.

After watching them argue throughout the team's entire practice that day, Booth decided to use an unorthodox method to get the Colonials back on the same page.

"They had to define the meaning of team, define the qualities of a good leader, give a positive on each player and give one thing that they need to improve," Booth said. "I've never done that before, but we've been struggling with the meaning of team."

Booth had each player text her their answers and printed the quotes out on a sheet of paper. She then presented it to the Colonials at a team meeting held directly before their game against Dover on Thursday. The players discussed what each of them had said and vowed to start working together.

The tactic apparently worked. New Oxford went on to beat the Eagles 3-0 at home Thursday. The scores of the three sets were 25-18. 25-16, 25-21.

Junior Alex Neiderer said the meeting was much needed for a team that has struggled to play cohesively this season. He added that Booth made the experiment better by providing homemade snacks at the meeting.

"She actually baked us cookies which were great," Neiderer said. "We talked it out and everybody came back together as a family.

"I loved (the meeting). Yesterday, I honestly had a really poor attitude and that really helped me, and I think it helped the rest of the guys realize how good we can be when we're working together."

It hasn't been always been an easy season for New Oxford, which went 8-6 last season but entered 2016 with just one returning varsity player in Neiderer. Booth, who coaches the girls' volleyball team in the fall, also took over as head coach before the season after previously serving as an assistant.

While Booth had no trouble connecting to the players since she already knew most of them, she said it was difficult getting the team's inexperienced players adjusted to the varsity level.

"It's been a struggle because Alex is our only returning varsity player, so it's just working on basic skills and growing as the season goes on," Booth said. "JV play is different from varsity play, and the speed is much faster at the varsity level."

The Colonials also have a very difficult schedule, having already faced Northeastern, Central York, York Suburban and Red Lion this season. But while the Colonials lost each of those games, Booth said she actually believes they had some of their best performances against those teams.

According to Booth, the key for New Oxford the rest of the season is learning to play more consistent and play as a team. If the Colonials can continue to do that, more homework assignments won't be necessary.

"We played York Suburban last week and that was our best game, they played better that night than (against Dover) to be honest," Booth said. "That's one thing we need to work on is playing at our level and not down to the level of the opposing team. Going into the end of the season, we have the potential to keep winning."

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