Last year, the girls’ handball team, the Furies, bounced back in a subpar season to go undefeated in the regular season for the fourth time in five years. For a team that has repeatedly dominated its weak division, anything less than a perfect season would be a disappointment. This season however, the Furies have already lost a crucial match to their city rivals from The Bronx High School of Science.
Fighting back after that loss, the team has won all six of its remaining games this season. “I’m confident we’re going to end the regular season top in our division, as we have done so in the past,” senior and co-captain Wendy Li said. “We have a really balanced team of players who can serve either low or high really well and who have a lot of endurance.”
Returning starters, and the addition of a talented freshman, Karen Huang, has been key for the Furies this year. “Our first singles is a freshman [Huang] and this is a really rare occasion that an underclassman would take one of the most respected spots on the team,” Li said. Huang has lost two out of five matches in her first season on the Furies.
One setback has been senior and co-captain Emily Liang’s inability to play for the past month because due to an injury. Though Liang has not been able to directly contribute to the team’s successes, she continues to fulfill her role as a captain. “During practice, they [the captains] watch us play and usually give advice and tips to improve our skills. They make us feel comfortable around them so that we know we can always go to them for help,” Huang said.
A lack of gym space has hindered the team’s practice sessions in the past but has not posed a problem so far this year. The team has been forced to share practice space with the boys’ handball team, the Dragons, which has resulted in quick playoff exits and unsuccessful past seasons, according to numerous players. This year however, the Furies have scheduled practice so that their practice schedule does not coincide with the Dragons schedule.
Though the freshmen were ostracized by older teammates at first, the team has gradually gotten closer. The Furies hope to capitalize on this positive team dynamic to make a deep run this season.
Despite having a combined regular season record of 50-2 in the past five seasons, the team has consistently failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs. Last season, their promising streak came to an abrupt end when they lost to Bayside High School 4-1.
The Furies know that early success does not always guarantee a successful season. “[Playoffs are] much more difficult than our regular season games so we really do need to practice harder,” Liang said. With previous seasons’ failures in mind, the girls are determined to enter the playoffs better prepared to face the tough competition.