In It To Win It: Volleyball team’s win streak extends to over one year

After sweeping to straight set victories as they hosted the Tiger Invite at home on Saturday, Sept. 22, the volleyball team extended its undefeated winning streak to a complete year as reigning state champions.

As the players strive to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves, the stress of being No. 1 in the state can be great, but these varsity players find the time keep up with friends, school and volleyball.

Head coach Matthew Johnson said he believes that volleyball should not be a stressful sport. He said he wants the girls to “have fun as a member of our program.” 

Johnson said he likes a healthy amount of competition to make practice more fun, “I think by being competitive but still keeping things fun we can take the stress out of the sport.” 

“We also spend a lot of time on managing health, whether that be what they are eating and drinking, how much sleep they are getting, hygiene habits as well as managing their schedules,” Johnson said. He said he likes to focus on having them keep up with their mental and physical help to keep them stress free.

Johnson himself keeps himself from being stressed by focusing on the now. He said, “I don’t spend too much time dwelling on win streaks or last year’s success.” He said he believes that the hard work and focus on the moment will help to make the longer goal happen. 

Emily Clapp, a senior who has played volleyball for seven years, has played 60 sets and has had 94 kills so far this season. Clapp said, “It’s sad to think that I won’t get to play with these amazing girls next year, but I am also excited to go play at the next level in college.” She has committed to Arkansas Tech University for next year.

The way that Clapp deals with her pressure is by time managing. 

“I sure don’t get as much free time as most kids. It takes a lot of time management,” Clapp said. She makes sure she has time for all her homework, even after a practice ends at 6 p.m.

Sophomore Emmy Wedgbury deals with her pressure slightly differently. Wedgbury said, “I actually have a stress ball shaped as a volleyball. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or frustrated, I just squeeze it, and it helps me focus.”

Wedgbury tries to take the high road and stay optimistic about her situation, “There’s always going to be pressure with being No. 1, but, honestly, it’s more fun than anything,” she said. 

Being the youngest on the team can sometimes make someone feel left out, but not for Wedgbury. “The girls are always a blast to be around. They’re really good teammates,” she said.

Johnson said that he is impressed by the team’s maturity, “Our seniors do a great job of making everyone feel welcome in the program. The bonds of the team are developed by the athletes themselves being good teammates and good people.” He said he doesn’t see a reason to host team bonding programs when they have such a natural bond. 

Being the top school in the state comes with of pressures, but with hard work and focus, state doesn’t seem so far out of reach.

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