By Evan Grice
Following the most successful season in Piedmont volleyball history, there was plenty of reason to celebrate last Thursday night at the Piedmont Intermediate School.
Players, parents, and coaches alike gathered together to honor all of the members of the Piedmont Lady Wildcats as the PHS Volleyball banquet took place with plenty of awards being handed out along with plenty of positive reflection.
“I’m very proud of the girls, and the progress we made as a program this season,” Piedmont coach Brad Brucker said. “There’s so much optimism about next season, and our girls realize how good they can be. A lot of these girls are going to be playing club during the summer, which is going to be a tremendous help for them. I think we’re going to be a top contender right off the bat next season, because of the talent we have returning for us next season.”
During the course of the season, there were many turning points for the Lady Wildcats. While some pointed to a particular game, others chose to look at the season as a whole.
“I think one of the biggest things from this season was how close we became as a team,” junior Kailey Lafollette said. “When we were playing last year, then I didn’t really know most of these girls. But, after playing with them for two years, I’ve grown extremely close to them. We’ve improved not only as a team, but as a volleyball family.”
Junior outside hitter Kayden Carver pointed to the Yukon game in particular, to which she says everyone started to realize their full potential.
“I feel like that was one of our best games of the season,” she said about the defeat to the Lady Millers. “Despite the fact we lost that match, we came together on that night. It really started to show to everyone our potential and how good we could really be as a team.”
Despite knocking off a pair of ranked opponents in Carl Albert and El Reno, along with accomplishing many firsts for the volleyball program this season, setter Kasidi Hardy said those will only fuel expectations for next season.
“Beating those ranked teams was great, but I know we all want more,” she said. “All those results did was show that we can compete. There were several games we felt like we could have won, so we have plenty of motivation and expectations going into next season for sure.”
Defensive most valuable player of the season went to sophomore libero Skylar Mylonas, who admitted she wasn’t planning on playing the position before the season, but couldn’t argue with the success it produced.
“It was a hard transition to make as first from setter to libero,” she said. “But, once we tried it out then we could see it worked out. Everyone works hard out there, and this feels really good to win. I’m going to be working a lot more on being able to get to those corner balls this summer, along with working on my offensive hitting as well for next season.”
Offensive player of the year went to junior Anna Young, who was a constant standout for the Lady Wildcats during the season.
“I feel so honored to have won this award,” Young said. “I’m just out there trying to work hard every day, and help make the team better. To be recognized like this shows that all of my hard work has paid off. I’m going to be pushing harder in the summer to get better for next season.”
The award for most valuable server for the year went to junior Bailey Banks, who said she worked hard to make sure she was a stronger server going into this year.
“To me, serving is very important,” Banks said. “I knew I was good at serving and that it was a strength of mine. Just being able to give my team that boost was really good for me. It’s nice to be noticed with awards, because it shows everyone has paid attention to how hard you have worked at something during the season.”
Junior Lindsey Malone was awarded the Wildcat Award, which symbolizes leadership on and off the court for Piedmont volleyball.
“Lindsey was always doing the little things for this team,” Coach Brucker said about Malone during his speech. “Whether it was getting scraps of trash off the bus or in the bleachers, Lindsey did those things. She’s a great example for everyone.”
Malone, who won the Wildcat Award for the second time in a row, admitted she was slightly surprised, but said she doesn’t mind helping out the team any way she can.
“I wasn’t expecting to win this again,” she said. “Cleaning up the trash so the team doesn’t have to run is a simple thing for me. I don’t normally think about it, I just do it. It’s nice to be recognized as a regular high school student in addition to being an athlete. It makes me feel very accomplished.”