by Michael Smith
Olivia Williams had a Senior Night to remember.
In the Grain Valley volleyball team’s regular season finale, not only did Williams lead the team in kills, she helped the Eagles finish undefeated in the Suburban White Conference following a 25-15,25-13, 25-16 sweep at home.
Williams finished with nine kills to lead the team, junior Adelyn Bybee had six and fellow senior Kellie Overturf had four.
“The way she jumps in the air, it just wows me every time,” freshman Kayla Gallagher said of Williams.
But Williams didn’t just have hard-hit, traditional kills, some of them came on softly-hit, two-handed dumps that found open spots on the opposing side of the floor. She has a pair of them that she sent cross court that landed right in front of the net.
“She has the ability to see the other side of the court, which is something you cannot teach,” Grain Valley head coach Tori Squiers said. “She doesn’t need to swing as hard as she can every time, she just hits the holes.”
Those shots are something that Williams has made a trademark for herself.
“I like to find the holes instead of just killing it,” Williams said. “My old coach (Kelsey Carver) taught me how to do that, so that’s how I learned.”
And her efforts helped the Eagles finish the regular season at 24-4-2 overall and 10-0 in the conference. In those conference games, Grain Valley dropped just one set total. It came in an Oct. 7 game against Fort Osage.
“It meant a lot to the girls to win every single game,” Squiers said. “The girls were ready to fight for every conference game. They worked hard as a team to accomplish this.”
They also worked hard to be the lone champion in the Suburban White Conference, which is the first time the Eagles accomplished that feat since 2013, when Squires was playing for the Eagles. Last season, the Eagles shared the conference title with Truman.
“With us, we were worried about losing to Truman again and splitting,” senior Olivia Williams said. “It was really cool to beat them 3-0 both times.”
The Eagles got a boost from Gallagher who added five kills for the Eagles. She has also provided solid defense at the net.
“She has brought a lot of offense with her hitting and she plays good defense two with her blocking up front,” Overturf said of Gallagher. “Her dad likes to call us ‘The Block Party.’ I know she’s going to do great.”
And Gallagher has done just that as she reached a milestone against Chrisman.
“It was fun. I hit 100 kills (for the season) today,” Gallagher said. “It’s a great memory for me. This season has been great. I can’t wait for districts.”
And that’s a new attitude that Gallagher may not have had at the beginning of the season. Squiers said that the freshman has come a long way since then.
“We were worried at first because she was really shy,” Squiers said. “She’s stepped up on the court and she’s become a lot more talkative, and she makes her ground on the court. She is making herself known.”
And Gallagher will hope to continue to do just that in the Class 5 District 14 Tournament as the Eagles will meet Blue Springs South in the semifinals Saturday. The winner will advance to the district championship game.
“It will be tough for sure, but that’s what makes it fun,” Squiers said. “We want to beat those tough teams and it makes it a lot more fun when we do. It’s going to be tough and hard competition.”