GPA Wins State in Volleyball: Repetition and practice makes perfect 3A state champs

As the varsity lady lions scored the winning point at the state championship, the team stormed the court and dog-piled each other, jumped high in victory, and looked at each other exclaiming “WE WON!”.
The crowd ran to the edge of the court in support and celebration for the girls; Everyone relishing in the moment, especially the seven seniors and eight underclassmen on the team.
With their second state championship under Head Coach Sandy Kelm in two years, the volleyball team dominated the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 3A District last month.
In 2012, the varsity team, consisting of only nine girls, achieved their first state title with Coach Kelm in TAPPS District 4A. Now this 2014 team repeat their former success in a new division, along with being undefeated in district.
“Winning state was an indescribable feeling, I can’t even explain how great the final moments were,” Senior Katy Duke said.
The team’s success comes from hard work in practice, repetition, communication, and trusting the Lord.
This game plan is not unlike theirs in 2012, with a smart defense, solid hitting, and good ball control. Sophomore Libero McKayla Craig digs up hard hits (582 digs for the season) from the opposing team, sending the ball into the hands of Senior Team Captain Hannah Hester, who sets up a high ball to Senior Team Captain Makenzee Hanna (with 440 kills this season) who slams it down where most opposing players cannot return it.
The varsity girls also have their pre-game “rituals” and pump-ups that they perform before they step onto the court.
“The girls have this thing that they go through,” varsity head coach Sandy Kelm said, “they make it up themselves, they sing songs and do their cheers, and then they pray.”
That’s not all the team does to give them an edge, though. Before every game, the team recites Psalm 18:25 in order to go into the game with the right mindset. It says, “To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless.”
In addition, the girls participate in quirky and seemingly unexplainable routines.
“Coach Kelm gives us this lavender plant to put under our pillow when we sleep,” Junior Riley Beason said, “and we always do it and I don’t know why.”
Even though the players might laugh this off, lavender is known for its aid in breathing and sleeping. Kelm is wise to give this to them the night before a big game.
Before the state game on Nov. 7th and 8th, nerves were running high and the players knew they had to pull together and remain focused. In the midst of the game the team came together as one and never stopped hustling.
“We have confidence in each other,” Beason, who had 135 kills this season said. “We know what we can do and we normally know what we did wrong, and we trust each other.”
The girls motivated each other and used encouragement to keep confidence up.
“I was like, I got this,” Senior Team Captain Makenzee Hanna said. “I tried not to get down on myself, and kept my confidence up.”
Confidence won out, as Hanna, along with Craig, Hannah Hester, and Payton Hall, were all selected for the all-tournament team.
After the game, the team enjoyed the moment and reflected on how far they had come as a family.
“At the beginning of the season, we had cliques, and not everyone was close, and we weren’t all as involved together,” Hanna said, “But as the season progressed, we all became one big family.”
Beason shares similar thoughts on the end result of the season.
“We were all a brand new team and we didn’t really know each other that well,” Beason said, ”But we all just came together and now we’re all best friends and I hope we stay that way forever.”

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