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GMS 8th Grade Volleyball Coach, Angela Butler, Recounts Team’s Perfect Season

“The season opened with a home win against Pine Tree Middle School followed by a contest in Marshall, where the Lady Lions proved to be too much for the Mavericks,” said GMS 8th Grade Volleyball coach, Angela Butler, as she reflected on the GMS Lady Lions perfect volleyball season this year. “Following this game, the starting middle blocker, Willow Rutter, suffered an injury to her hip that would prevent her from playing for the rest of the season,” said Butler.

A perfect season is rare in any sport at any level. During their undefeated season, the GMS 8th Grade volleyball team consistently showed grace and humility, despite their winning streak, and remained focused on the games still to come. Coach Butler recounted the girls’ season with great admiration for the young ladies she coached. “I think that the way these young ladies conducted themselves over the course of the season really speaks volumes about their character,” said Butler. “They remained humble, yet confident, and really grew together as a team. That kind of teamwork will serve them well later in life as they grow into young adults” she continued.

After losing Rutter as middle blocker, coach Butler tried Alyssa Mitchell in the position “and she immediately took on the challenge,” she said. “During that week, both Anyrah Holbert and Mariah Rios were forced to adapt to new positions and, just like Alyssa, they both rose to the challenge and accepted their new responsibilities with enthusiasm,” continued Butler. The team traveled to Texas Middle School the following week to take on the Lady Tigers, where they defeated the Tigers in a close match. That same week, the team took home first place in the Prairiland Middle School Volleyball Tournament.

“That first place win was huge for this team. I think beating Texas Middle proved to them how good they really were, and then winning the tournament was the icing on the cake,” said Butler. The next two games for the Lady Lions were against Mount Pleasant and Sulphur Springs, both ending in victories for GMS.

The final contest of the season was in Hallsville. “Going into this game, both teams had no-loss records, so we knew this would be the most important game of the season,” said Butler. “Hallsville came out strong right away. It definitely took our girls a while to start playing the way they normally compete,” she continued. “Toward the end of the first game they finally started clicking, though it was too late to win the first set. Now down one set, the girls were in a must win situation,” said Butler as she recounted the final match. “The second set was close all the way through. Our girls found themselves down 19-16 but were able to rally to come back and win 25-23. This sent the teams to a third game.” The third set of the match, the Lady Lions came out strong to win the game with a solid 25-13 victory. “It was amazing to watch,” said Butler, “it was like the girls just decided there was no way that they were having their undefeated season taken away from them.”

Butler continued to express her admiration for this team of girls, saying that “Being able to coach [them] was an incredible experience for me. I have never seen a more competitive, determined group of young ladies. They simply refused to lose.”

“Following the leadership of Kelsi McNair and Maci Williams, the girls completely meshed into one unit that consistently worked together. Abby Daugherty, Katelyn Heatherly, Brianna Ramsour, and Kennady Pryor each provided a stabilization to the team where we knew that we could consistently depend on them to get their job done,” said Butler as explained the importance of each team member. “There would be times that each of these girls would have something new thrown at them and they would just adapt and adjust without complaint,” she said. “Jordan Hunnicutt became well-known throughout our district for having more energy and enthusiasm than any other player. She was the ultimate encourager and was a crucial part of the spirit of our team,” said Butler.

Team members for the undefeated Lady Lions volleyball team were Abby Daugherty, Katelyn Heatherly, Anyrah Holbert, Jordan Hunnicutt, Kelsi McNair, Alyssa Mitchell, Kendady Pryor, Brianna Ramsour, Mariah Rios, Willow Rutter, and Maci Williams.

Butler continually praised the character of each of the girls and showed true excitement about each of their futures. “I think having a season like this one is something they’ll remember for many years to come. They are shaping into fine young women that will prove to be outstanding contributors to society. In my opinion, the Greenville community has some very exciting young talent coming its way,” she said.