WHITEMARSH >> The season was over.
But as the Plymouth Whitemarsh girls volleyball team surveyed the damage, there was nothing to do but smile.
Sure, the Colonials had just lost in four sets to eventual state finalist Parkland in the state quarterfinal match at Exeter High School. But there was no bickering, no finger-pointing, not even a mild cross word.
PW had arrived, as a state contender, enjoying the best volleyball season in the history of the school.
And in the middle of it all, Olivia Carbo had a smile wider than most.
Was she the best player on her team?
That was debatable, as these Colonials were so dependent on each other, a fire-breathing dragon with multiple heads, one just as formidable as the other, a true team.
They had come so far and had done so playing, smiling and even crying together.
So when Carbo was anointed with the title of athlete of the year, she was not quick to take solo bows.
“We were so tight, so much like sisters and we had come so far together,” Carbo said. “It was such a great year.
“The only thing we were sad about was that the fun we had for all these years together was over.”
Carbo was named one of the team’s captains at the beginning of the season by Colonials head coach Seely Byer, and it was a title she did not take lightly.
“When I was named captain I felt I had to be there for all of my teammates, my friends I had grown up with as well as the young players I didn’t know as well,” she said. “I wanted to be there for all of them.”
And so she was.
And when it came time for Byer to choose her best player, she acknowledged that Carbo was not one of the team’s glamour attackers with the triple-figure kills and points.
She was, in fact, the ultimate team player, who led the team in digs, was second in assists, the helper who got her hands dirty while others were handed the accolades.
In typical fashion, Carbo gave the stock answers about team chemistry, about how the team had lost only two seniors from the 2015 team.
But Byer knew that Carbo was the glue that helped hold the team together.
“That’s one of the things that fans notice, the kills, the points, the big numbers,” Byer said. “They don’t always notice the dig, the assist that set it up.”
“Danielle (Rippert) was our leader in kills and points and all of that, and she is a great player,” Byer said. “But Olivia was the one of those who got the digs, the assists, who enabled Danielle to put up those numbers.”
As for Rippert, Carbo said the two are thick as thieves, having played together since sixth grade.
“Whenever I set something up, Danielle was the first to come over and let me know,” Carbo said. “We’re the best of friends, we had such great chemistry together.”
And while Carbo said she’ll never stop playing volleyball; her immediate future does not include playing the sport collegiately.
Her future focus, she said, is in academics, in the mathematics or science field. And the list of colleges, which includes Maryland, Indiana, Miami, Wisconsin and Penn State, she is considering would not necessarily be beating down her door to play.
So while her playing days as part of an organized team are likely over, Carbo said she has enough memories from the Colonials’ amazing run this year to last a while.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Carbo said.