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Hanover seniors savoring final season together

The Hawkettes have six senior starters on a team looking to advance in the District 3 playoffs this season

The Hanover girls' volleyball team just started its season, but tears are already a regular occurrence for the Hawkettes.

According to players and coaches, the team rarely gets through a practice, game or bus ride without someone crying. Not because they're upset, but because they're already thinking about the bond they've developed coming to an end.

"We cry almost every day," senior captain Lexi Daley said. "(Tuesday) night (against Fairfield) was our last first game and we were crying on the court already; it was so weird. It's crazy that it's our senior year and we've been playing together since we were in the sixth grade. We're so close."

The Hawkettes have six seniors in their starting lineup, who have grown especially close with head coach Liz Garber since she took over three years ago. But while they're already thinking about their time together ending, they have goals to accomplish first.

After losing in the first round of the District 3 playoffs the last three seasons, Hanover is determined to go on a run this fall. After winning a tournament last weekend at Big Spring High School and winning Tuesday's opening match against Fairfield, the team is off to a good start.

"I've grown really close with these girls and I'm going to be sad to see them go," Garber said. "There's good pressure on them and I can tell they really want to win. As a team, their goals are across the board the same."

While the team has plenty of veterans, there's a new face around the gym, too: Garber's son, Caleb, who was born July 13. Garber has taken maternity leave from her full-time job, but she hasn't missed a single volleyball event. She occasionally brings Caleb to practice and holds him while instructing the team.

The past few months haven't been easy for Garber, but the coach said she never considered stepping away from the bench.

"My due date was July 30, which was two weeks before preseason, so having him come three weeks early was extremely convenient," Garber said. "I had plenty of time to deal with having a newborn and get in here to work with the girls. It's natural, it feels like this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

The players like having Caleb around, and they especially enjoy having a coach willing to sacrifice so much for them. It's one of the things that makes the team so close.

With matches just getting started, the Hawkettes are trying to remain focused. They know Delone Catholic is expected to be the class of Division III in the YAIAA, but they'd like to challenge the Squirettes for the division title.

However the season turns out, Hanover's six seniors are going to enjoy it.

"The fact that we mean this much to (Garber) means a lot to us, because most coaches wouldn't be back," senior captain Alexa Merrel said. "Knowing that this is our last year together, our year to do something big, makes it emotional."