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The stellar play of senior outside hitter Giselle Zumerchik is one of the biggest reasons why the Indians’ volleyball team qualified for states this fall. Giselle is also an accomplished hurdler at North Haven High School who took first place in the 300 hurdles at the SCC West Sectional Championship last spring. (Photo courtesy of Giselle Zumerchik )
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Senior Giselle Zumerchik is a three-sport athlete at North Haven High School who suits up for the Indians’ volleyball team, as well as their girls’ indoor and outdoor track squads. Giselle’s father signed her up for various camps when she was younger, and she’s been playing volleyball and running track ever since.
This fall, Giselle is one of seven seniors who plays for the North Haven volleyball squad. Giselle says there’s a great atmosphere on the team that she loves being part of.
“It’s nice that there is a big group of seniors, because we’re super close,” says Giselle. “It’s good when we play together. We have that team bond.”
Giselle, an outside hitter, helped the volleyball team qualify for the Class L State Tournament for the first time in several seasons this year. While Giselle isn’t a captain, Head Coach Brianna Kleckner says that she’s still relied upon to get the Indians amped up for each practice and every match.
“She’s our go-to person for leading our cheer. I think she does a great job of putting a smile on everybody’s face,” says Kleckner. “Every day, we come to practice, and that’s what she does naturally. I think that’s her personality. I know that we appreciate that very much, and the kids do, too.”
Through North Haven’s first 13 matches this season, Giselle recorded 116 kills to go with 23 aces for the Indians. Last week, Giselle turned in one of her best performances of the year when she slammed home 21 kills in an 3-2 victory versus SCC Oronoque Division rival East Haven.
Coach Kleckner says that Giselle does a great job of keeping opposing defenses on their toes, because she always mixes up her maneuvers on the court.
“We’re just incredibly proud of the progress she’s made and being able to execute that for sure,” says Kleckner. “Her ability to read the defense—she’s able to look across the net, see where the defender is not, and take advantage of that situation.”
Giselle believes that despite her height, her ability to leap and strike the ball with authority is a huge advantage for her when she’s playing the outside hitter position.
“I’ve played a couple different positions since 8th grade, but I’m mainly an outside hitter mostly because, at 5-foot-7, I’m not tall enough for the middle. So, I need more of an approach to get high enough to hit the ball decently,” says Giselle. “You need to be aggressive. You need to hit the ball as hard as you can.”
Giselle runs relays for North Haven’s indoor and outdoor track teams, but she’s seen her greatest success in the hurdles. This past spring, Giselle took first place in the 300 hurdles at the SCC West Sectional Championship with a time of 47.62 seconds. She also placed second in the 100 hurdles at 16.75. Giselle went on to finish second in the 300 hurdles at the Class MM State Championship by running a time of 47.15.
“I used to like the shorter hurdles more, but this past year, my coach pushed me to do the longer version, and I like it just as much now,” Giselle says. “I just like when I have a good run. It feels good in a sense. I feel very accomplished. When I [competed at sectionals], I was nervous, but I knew I could do it, because I’ve done it so many times.”
Giselle notes that she puts in a lot of work to succeed as a hurdler. She’s constantly working on her craft and trying to get her steps down to perfection.
“It’s a lot of going over them a lot. People don’t think it’s form, but it really does come down to form, and making sure you don’t hit the hurdles on your way over,” she says. “You can’t be afraid of them. You need to go full force.”
With two more seasons of track still on the horizon, Giselle wants to keep dropping her times, so she continue making the biggest impact possible for the Indians.
“I really want to work on my stamina and improve my times,” says Giselle. “I’m going to do more long-distance runs to make sure I have my stamina for the 300 hurdles.”
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