Thunderbird High’s women’s volleyball team is having its best seasons in recent years and it’s largely thanks to their twin sisters who will be among the best in the program’s history.
Seniors Abby and Emma Reardon grew up on the volleyball court together and played on the varsity team for the Titans (13-1) since their freshman year. The two have already set school records with three games remaining in the regular season.
Abby broke Thunderbird’s record with 1,178 digs while Emma currently has the most kills in program history (877). Both continue to add to those numbers.
“I think growing up in the same sport, especially as a brother and even as a best friend, you constantly push each other,” Abby Reardon said.
“So at home, like one of us was feeling lazy, she was like, ‘I’m going to go practice.’ Then the other is like, ‘God, I have to go now.’ [We are] constantly pushing each other to be better and just like leading each other.”
The Reardon twins plan to continue pushing themselves to their fullest potential at the next level. The two are committed to playing Division II volleyball at Westminster College in Utah.
“People who get along so well on the court, as twins who have played the exact same sport all their lives, that might be a different story,” said head coach Carly Price. “…It’s just humbling to be able to see the connection they have.”
While twin telepathy has proven more myth than fact, it certainly seems like the Reardon sisters can read each other’s minds in the field.
“Their chemistry is amazing,” Price said. “They move so well together… They have similar movements. They know and anticipate where the other person would be more than someone who isn’t related to them.”
Price has coached the Reardon twins for the past four seasons. During this time, Abby and Emma not only improved their volleyball skills, they became leaders. Both have been team captains since their first year.
“[We] I like trying to get people out of their heads,” said Emma Reardon. “You have to be like mentally strong. You can’t really let him bring you down or he’ll bring everyone down.”
“Off the pitch, we’re all best friends off it…and we’re all really close to that help. So if one of us isn’t mind controlled or something, then we’d say, ‘Hey, it’s okay,’ and help them out a little bit.”
After just two home games to start the season, the Titans faced early adversity that tested everyone’s mindset.
A severe rainstorm caused water to leak through the roof of the gymnasium and down half the pitch. Concerns about possible mold led school officials to remove parts of the floor where there was water underneath. However, this side of the pitch could not be replaced immediately, as the water had not dried up. For more than three weeks, Thunderbird practiced and played on other schools’ courts while waiting for their own court to dry out.
Price said she was saddened for her players, especially the seniors.
“They look forward to their senior night every year. They look forward to playing in their own gym,” Price said. “And so it really devastated all of us, and it took a while to get over it… That was our first big chunk of them to accept, ‘I’m probably never going to play in this gym again. “
After several weeks, the water still had not evaporated. To compromise, the school repositioned the volleyball net across the court and barricaded the torn part of the floor after Thunderbird got district approval.
Besides feeling relieved to be going home, Price said it was a good reminder for her team not to give up.
“It helped us know that, okay, we’ve already overcome something very important,” Price said. “We had other little things that happened, and we were like, ‘Hey, that’s part of life’… It’s a really good life lesson to teach these young girls to be able to keep pushing and fighting and not backing down.”
The Titans were also able to apply this life lesson in games.
“… Same [against Shadow Mountain] we were struggling a bit, but we still managed to get through it,” said Emma Reardon. “And I feel like that’s from this season. As if it had happened at the start of the season, we could not have gotten out of it. But we went through a lot of things that made us mentally stronger.”
After defeating the Matadors on the road, Thunderbird was scheduled to play its final home game against St. Mary’s High School (9-6) on senior night Thursday, October 21. The regional game will be the last time the Reardon twins will play together. on their home turf, as the team will finish with two games on the road.
“They’re going to be a huge loss to us, not just as volleyball players, but as people and leaders,” Price said. “And so, of course, we will miss their skills and drive, but what they bring to the program is so much consistency, calmness and chaos.”