It had been a while since I had done a challenge when I hit the volleyball court and tried to return serves from North Rome’s Abby Winward.

Serve after serve Winward placed balls over the net, and serve after serve I struggled to do anything at all to even touch the serves.

While Winward was lights out with her placement, it’s still one of the things she’s working on to improve in her game.

“Definitely getting my serve in and my spikes,” Winward said of things she is working on.

For Winward this will be her fifth year playing volleyball for North Rome, having started in seventh grade.

For Winward playing this many years has helped her get more and more experience in the sport.

“I can just progress my skills,” she said.

And the junior has seen a lot of development over those years.

“Definitely a lot better in my awareness of where the ball is and everything,” Winward said.

There are some big pros to playing volleyball at the varsity level this long, however, there was some nerves when she first started out on varsity.

“It’s definitely scary because I’m really short, they are so tall against the net, because they are intimidating,” Winward said.

One big advantage of playing so long, and playing at a small school is that Winward has played with many of her teammates for a lot of years.

“I think it’s a lot better, we all know each other, so we know how each other plays,” Winward said. “We know each other so we play better together.”

All that time together makes the players be able to know what to expect from each other on the court.

“I know how they will react to the ball and I can react to them,” Winward said.

One challenge at a smaller school is the roster isn’t always huge, so many of the veterans end up spending a lot of time on the court.

“Sometimes it can be hard, depending on the team we play,” Winward said. “If they are a better team it’s a lot harder.”

There are a lot of familiar faces for Winward returning to North Rome’s team next year, but one player she will be missing is her sister Anna.

“It will be a lot different, because she’s like my partner,” Winward said.

Her entire high school career has been spent playing with her sister, and while she’s ready to see what North Rome does next year, not having her sister out there will be something new.

“I am pretty excited, but it’s also going to suck because I don’t have Anna,” Abby said.

During her career after a good moment, or a bad moment, Abby and Anna could always been seen talking.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot different,” Abby said. “I won’t have someone to talk to about certain things, it will be harder.”

For Winward there might be a few times early where she has to get used to not talking to Anna after a play.

“Probably I’ll go over to the sidelines where she’s sitting,” Abby joked.

Next year will be different, but watching Winward hit serve after serve all over the court, it’s clear as she heads into her fifth year she’s in for another standout year for North Rome.

Sports Editor

Sports Editor of The Daily & Sunday Review. Send story ideas to reviewsports@thedailyreview.com.