ANDOVER — Longtime Andover volleyball coach George Sullivan laughed as he took a razzing from a pair of his players during practice last week.
"Let me tell you," he said with a chuckle. "When you get all three of the Arvidson sisters together like we did recently, they'll tease you like crazy. They are a just so funny."
While the Arvidsons may have a sense of humor in common, they share another key trait. They all happen to be stars on the volleyball court.
This year, the Golden Warriors volleyball team, which opened the season with a stellar performance in a loss to Central Catholic, is led onto the court by senior co-captain Kirsten Arvidson and her sophomore sister Sarah. That continues the tradition set fourth by sister and 2007 Andover High graduate Heather Arvidson.
"My sisters have inspired me a lot," said Sarah. "I have to live up to them and be as good as them. And since I am younger, I want to be even better. They push meC to be as good as I can be."
The Arvidsons fell in love with volleyball the moment Heather, who would go on to be named All-Merrimack Valley Conference as a senior, first gave it a try when she entered high school.
"She started playing her freshman year and we all started after that," said Kirsten. "I used to go to a lot of her games and that's what introduced me to volleyball."
The year after Heather graduated, Kirsten made the varsity team. The 6-foot-1 sophomore earned the job as starting middle hitter on the Golden Warriors squad that advanced to the Division 1 state semifinals in 2007.
Andover High struggled as a team last season, going 7-11 and missing the tournament. But it was a stellar year for Arvidson.
Elected a tri-captain as a junior, Arvidson earned Eagle-Tribune All-Star and All-MVC honors as she led the Golden Warriors in kills (194) blocks (108) and notched an 82 percent hitting percentage. Now in her final season of high school volleyball, she feels even more comfortable as both a player and a captain.
"Its difference because I'm a senior," she said. "You're the top dog now. It's all been kind of a blur. It's good to have people that look up to me and (fellow co-captain) Anne Ye."
One of the players looking up to the team's lone returning senior is her younger sister Sarah.
"It works because we get along so well away from the court," said Sarah. "I think we communicate well and she pushes me if I am lagging behind."
At 5-foot-10, Sarah Arvidson earned a starting job as an outside hitter as a freshman and tallied an impressive 80 kills, 79 digs and 18 aces.
She opened this season in style, leading the team in kills (8) and digs (14) as the Warriors nearly upset MVC favorite Central Catholic.
Oldest sister Heather is still active on the court too. She is currently a middle back for Colby. So far this season, she leads the team that opened the season 3-1 in kills (27) to go with a .846 serving percentage.
"Sarah is excellent as an outside hitter," said Kirsten. "I am a middle hitter and don't see much of the back row, so we don't work together too much. But being out there with her is awesome. It was different with Heather because I was on the JV team when she was here. But, with Sarah, we are on the same row a lot together. It's so exciting when she does well."
2008 record: 7-11, didn't make state tourney
Returning Lettermen: Kirsten Arvidson, Sr., 6-1, hitter; Annie Ye, Jr., 5-6, defense; Molly Burke, Soph., 5-5, setter/defense; Sarah Arvidson, Soph., 5-10, hitter; Ava Bakhtyari, Soph., 5-10, hitter; Elise Brogan, Soph., 6-1, middle hitter
Promising newcomers: c, Jr., 5-8, setter; Moira Cronin, Jr., 6-0, right hitter; Jillian Pengeroth, Jr., 5-10, right hitter; Zoe Co, Soph., 5-5, defense; Penelope Jones, Sr., 5-10, outside hitter; Tijana Samadiz, Sr., 5-7, defense; Laura Gibson, Frosh., defense, 5-6; Marcela Bolanos, Frosh., 5-5, defense
Captains: Kirsten Arvidson, Annie Ye
Head Coach: George Sullivan (23nd year, 331-151 )