Spikeball Brawl

Volleyball Team Shares Playstyle, Goals For Upcoming Season


Photo by Isaiah Prophet

Preparing a power serve, Clifton serves during the second set. The team won this match against Leander, which was their second game into districts. “My mindset when I’m in a match is to be focused, but still have fun,” Clifton said. “it’s important to be loud and cheer, but also stay concentrated. find a good balance of having fun and enjoying the game, but also know when to get serious and get it together.”

Isaiah Prophet, Reporter

‘I got it!’ screams the outside hitter, sliding into action, using all her might to send the ball rocketing upwards. The ball arcs high in the air and then begins its fall while the opposite hitter waits for the perfect moment to strike; bam, the ball is sent whizzing to the other side and the cycle begins again. 

The varsity volleyball team is underway in their current district competition with a win against Leander already. The team said they hope to make it to state if their winning streak continues.

Senior and varsity volleyball hitter Kylie Bates said she has high hopes for the team as they continue their District Competition. She said she believes that the team is ready and has their eyes set on the prize. 

“One goal I’ve set for myself for the rest of the season is to enjoy it as much as possible,” Bates said. “To be there for my teammates at all times, striving to get better each day. We feed off each other and push each other as people and as athletes. During a match, it really helps to look forward towards my future goals. For example, I think of the feelings of the postseason, then I correlate how winning this match will get me there.”

Natural talent can help an athlete succeed, but hard work, dedication, and good sportsmanship will go much further, according to volleyball coach Lori Mclaughlin. She said she feels that this team has really set themselves apart from other teams she’s coached.

“This team is really fun to coach,” Mclaughlin said. “I think their bond from training together has helped us grow better as a team. We train well together as a team, and they have something that can’t be found anywhere else. I’m very proud of how far they have come.”

The team has also shifted dramatically since last year, according to senior and outside hitter Megan Woods. With two new members added to the team, freshmen Callie Kruger and Sophia Peters, making sure the team was able to handle the shift used to be her biggest concern.

“We’ve progressed a lot since the beginning of the season,” Woods said. “From the beginning of the season, we were a pretty small and inexperienced team. We had brought two freshmen, but now, we are winning a lot of games by sweeping people, which is really impressive considering how we had started out.”

Senior and opposite hitter Karis Clifton said she believes that the team’s progress has come from the rigorous practice the girls undergo in order to sharpen their skills. A regime that has changed in order to encompass all the different positions the girls will have to endure during each game.

“We play six-three-one all the time,” Clifton said. “I love this drill because it’s competitive and beneficial. We have to get six perfect passes, three serves, and then we get one shank [the player tosses the ball unpredictably]. This game focuses on having aggressive serves, and having perfect passes.”

Lightning fast movement and excellent focus are what senior and inside hitter Kate Alex strives for in her games, according to Alex. For her senior year, she said she hopes to end the season strong which is why she is training harder than ever. 

“I specialize in hitting in the front row,” Alex said. “I definitely feel like I excel in this because I have a high vertical and I’m explosive. I really just try and only pay attention to the game itself and not my surroundings. I would really like to go far into the playoffs and just end my season off with a good finish.”

Understanding both the offensive and defensive playstyle are important when making decisions on the court, according to junior and varsity middle blocker Nia Cummings. The team trains on both elements in order to maximize their effectiveness. 

“Defense and spiking the ball are my favorites,” Cummings said. “I set the goal for myself to make sure to cheer and press my block. I feel I’ve progressed a lot, as my blocking is getting better each game. With determination, I just keep my eyes on the ball and make sure to cheer so I can get into the game.”

Taking care of the physical is only half the battle, according to Clifton. Clifton said maintaining a clear mind is a priority for her, and she said she feels it makes her more confident in her matches.

“My mindset when I’m in a match is to be focused, but still have fun,” Clifton said. “It’s important to be loud and cheer, but also stay concentrated. Find a good balance of having fun and enjoying the game, but also know when to get serious and get it together.”

The girls have an amazing team bond, according to Woods. In her opinion, a solid team bond is the most important key to success. She said she feels spending time with each other on and off the court has helped them become more coordinated.

“We’re definitely a family,” Woods said. “We always want the best for each other and cheering each other on. We just have so much love and passion for the game, which just shows the core of how much we care about each other. I remember when we faced Westlake, coming into the match really nervous and wanting to win. It was a hard game, but we came out strong because we worked together and trusted each other.”