When the University of Nebraska hosted Omaha in an outdoor women’s volleyball match on August 30, 2023, at Memorial Stadium, 92,003 fans became part of what is now the largest recorded crowd to watch a women’s sporting event in the United States. The surge in volleyball’s popularity can be felt here in Anne Arundel County, with public high schools Arundel and Broadneck topping the state rankings at No. 1 and No. 6, respectively.
When the 2024-2025 school year starts, a new team will be in town as Severn School will put its first girls volleyball team on the court.
Julian Domenech, in his 16th year as athletic director at Severn, said the team has been a few years in the making.
“We’ve been thinking about volleyball for four or five years as we’ve seen its popularity grow, the development of strong club teams in the area, and students and parents asking about the sport,” Domenech said.
Erin Bernhardt, a former Division I and international player, will be the head coach. She brings a wealth of professional playing and coaching experience to Severn, including the past six seasons at St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis.
The addition of a sport to the school’s athletic roster is just the first one added since wrestling entered the scene at the upper school in 2010.
“We have five sport opportunities for females in the fall,” said Domenech, “but we see the surge of strong volleyball programs in the county, and we look forward to being a part of that by playing some public schools as well as IAAM conference schools.”
The court in the gymnasium is already lined for volleyball. With the admissions process getting underway, the athletic department is excited to track the interest in the inaugural volleyball team.
“We think we can be competitive. We expect students who play winter or spring sports, like basketball, will be interested in playing,” Domenech said. “This is the one a lot of people have been talking about, so this is the natural next step for us.”
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