by John Unrein
Senior Night was made memorable for Senior Setter Jessica Slater due to her individual effort as well as the determination of her teammates. The Grain Valley Eagles Girls Volleyball team bettered their communication, tempo, fundamentals, and execution during the last two sets of play to come back and win 2 games to 1 against the visiting Winnetonka Griffins on Wednesday, October 23rd.
Slater expressed her gratitude for her teammates and the win she enjoyed on her home court during Senior Night.
“Tonight, I just wanted to go out and give it my all. It’s my last game ever played in Grain Valley on this court. I knew my teammates had it in them to come back and make sure we win. I just approached tonight with an open mind knowing anything can happen,” Slater said.
“I am so thankful for this season and to get to play with such a great group of girls. I will miss this team. This group is so young, it’s been fun to watch them grow and they have improved throughout the season.”
Slater was successful in masking where she would set the ball throughout play. The senior would use her peripheral vision to identify the approach of her teammates to the net and not give away which direction she would set the ball with the axis of her body until impact on her hands. Slater kept an even keel during competition with upbeat body language and positive words for her teammates.
Other solid contributors for the Eagles included Junior Setter Tabitha Kerns and Sophomore Outside Player Olivia Williams. Lady Eagles Head Volleyball Coach Kelsey Carver was thrilled with the way her team fought back on their home court as well as the grit showed by Slater, Kerns, and Williams in their victory.
“It makes a big difference for our offense to have setters like Jessica and Tabitha. If your setter gives away where they’re going with the ball too early it makes it all the more difficult for your attackers to score,” Carver said.
“Both of those girls are quiet leaders who really pull the team together out there. They lead by example and behind the scenes with their actions and positive words. It’s not a loud outspoken thing. More a display of their confidence and determination.”
Williams toughness was on display as it was a game time decision if she would participate due to an injury to her ankle. The sophomore battled through pain to obtain numerous digs on the floor and spikes over net until the redness of her face matched the marks on her legs. Williams also held serve for the Eagles for three and four points during the second and third sets respectively.
Carver was complimentary of the resilience displayed by Williams.
“Olivia was not full speed tonight. She was hurting and showed a lot of perseverance. It can be easy to shut down when your injured, especially towards the end of the season. She did not want to sit out and you couldn’t tell that she was injured if you didn’t already know. I applaud her toughness and the contributions she put forward to help us win,” Carver said.
Blocks at the net and getting them closed along with continuing to improve serves are areas Carver would like her team to continue to focus on prior to their next match against the Truman Patriots on Monday, October 28th.