Zoe Murchio: Back Row Player Takes No Back Seat

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

No matter what, Zoe Murchio always stands out on the volleyball court. It’s a common thread amongst all liberos, who must wear a different color jersey from the rest of their teammates as a means of identification. But for the past four seasons, Murchio’s play for the Weeki Wachee High varsity team has made her just as easy to notice.

A year ago, her 558 digs ranked seventh in the state, according to MaxPreps.com. Her 252 total entering Wednesday night’s match at Lecanto makes her the state leader thus far this season, and she added 33 more versus the Lady Panthers. “She’s a phenomenal digger,” Weeki Wachee head coach Kelly Werkmeister said. “If it wasn’t for Zoe with her defensive play on the backline for us and her platform with serve-receive, it would definitely make it hard for our setters.
“She can read the ball very well. She doesn’t hesitate when she plays the game. She goes with the play of the game, and seeing the ball and taking off to it.”

As a senior, Murchio has played a pivotal role in the Lady Hornets’ expedited rise as one of the better programs in the area. The team stands at 6-7, though that mark is slightly skewed by a 1-4 showing in the rugged Orlando Showcase tournament last weekend. In Class 5A, District 7 play, Weeki Wachee has gone 4-2, in the mix among the top half of the district.

“The team has good chemistry, so it’s going well,” Murchio said. “For me, it’s stressful. It feels like there’s a lot of pressure on me. As a senior and libero I’m expected to pick up a lot in the back row. But for the most part I think I’m doing pretty good.

“Last year I was number one in the district for digging. I feel like I need to get that again.”
As a sophomore, Murchio had 318 digs, emerging as a key piece for the Lady Hornets as they went from a combined 7-36 their first two seasons to 16-11 and district runner-up. In 2014, Weeki Wachee went 17-13 and again placed second in the district. “It feels good to know I’m a part of that, the team getting better and stronger every year. I’m proud to be a part of that,” Murchio said. “You don’t hear a lot of other schools doing that like we have. To me it means a lot… A lot of us played club with Coach Kelly with Hernando Elite. We already know how to play with each other and have chemistry. It makes it a lot easier to play together.”

Murchio’s contributions aren’t completely limited to the defense. She’s also one of the team’s top servers, with 22 aces last year and 13 so far this season. “When the game is getting tight, we’ve got to have defense in there. Zoe becomes my weapon,” Werkmeister said. “She’s the one I go to with the game on the line.”

There is another reason Murchio can be easy to pick out on the floor: her size. Now 5-foot-1, she was even smaller during her first few seasons. But she’s made up for it with her hustle.
“I’m just running all around the backline trying to pick up everything I can,” Murchio said. “I’m pretty quick. I think that’s what makes me effective.” She wants to play in college, and expects to explore her options during the upcoming club volleyball season. For her final prep campaign, she wants to help the Lady Hornets advance deeper into the postseason.

“It’d be nice to make it to the top eight (in the region),” Murchio said. “We’ve made it to regionals the past two years but never made it any farther. I feel like this is the year we make it farther… It’s really important to me. I want to leave the school and be satisfied with how I did my senior year. It’s how I’ll be remembered.”

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