St. John's Girls’ Varsity Volleyball clinched the top seed in the SPC South for the upcoming conference tournament which starts on Thursday, November 4th at the Episcopal School of Dallas. How they got there had a lot to do with getting out of their comfort zone and doing things that are counterintuitive.
The Mavericks began their season with one starter out which caused a domino effect on the roles of each player. Setters doubled up as outside hitters, and a lot of people had to step up and fill in. The level of trust in themselves and each other was tested early on, but the resiliency of the team in overcoming setbacks was forged in practice starting in the pre-season.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and in practice, we do partner drills and you have to challenge each other,” said captain Margot Manning ’23. “Coach (Shelbi) Irvin always says ‘volleyball is a sport where everyone needs to do their 1/6th for it to work.’”
One-sixth of the work up until recently meant taking on jobs that belonged to somebody else.
“When someone is doing something they are not used to doing, it pushes us out of our comfort zone,” said captain Morgan Grace ’22.
No matter what role they were in, six players at a time, the Mavericks forged ahead against non-conference opponents, going 17-8 outside the SPC. Of note, St. John’s swept UIL 6A playoff teams Dobie, Shadow Creek, Ft. Bend Travis, and most recently Bellaire. Their lone conference loss was in a nail-biter to EHS back in early October. Regardless of the outcome, their process involves leaving it all on the floor.
“One of the hardest skills is diving on the court,” said Grace. “If you don’t go all out, you are never going to be successful. Coach Irvin tells us not to think about it but it’s all you think about.”
“We have our players back and are healthy,” said Irvin. “I think all of the adversity we have faced this season has only made us stronger and I am excited to see what we can do at SPC. We are starting to find our rhythm.”
The team is on a five-match winning streak and finished the regular season in a three-way tie with Episcopal and St. Stephen’s. All three teams were 7-1 with the Mavericks winning the most games (5) in the head-to-head matches to claim the top spot, and now they have everyone back on the floor.