Graham hosts summer league volleyball
The annual Graham summer volleyball league kicked off this week. For two nights a week, players and families flock to Young County from Bryson, Breckenridge, Jacksboro, Mineral Wells, Wichita Falls, Millsap and Ranger for one of the largest summer volleyball leagues in the state.
The only 4A school with a larger high school league is Glen Rose, with 19 teams and seven schools participating during the week.
The GHS gymnasium parking lot was completely full Tuesday during the first round of games for the high school. Graham head volleyball coach Marci Faulk said the turnout for the event gets bigger every year.
“We had to order about 315 summer league shirts this year, which is an incredible number for a summer league,” she said. “Not only is this a big deal for the school, but for the community. People who attend this league are going to want to go out to dinner or stop by the grocery story after, so it’s a big deal for the city of Graham.”
Due to UIL rules, coaches cannot have interaction with their team on the court while the matches are taking place. Faulk admits it is tough not to be able to issue instructions to her squad, but trusts her team.
“It makes me proud this league is all program ran,” she said, meaning it’s operated by current and former players. “I sit there watching my girls play and I want to take notes and do everything i can but this is an opportunity for everybody to improve and be ready for the upcoming season.”
Junior high teams compete on Monday evenings during June while high school squads hit the court on Tuesdays during the month. Games begin at 5 p.m. and conclude with the final set starting at 8 p.m. later that night.
Games are 25 minutes long and 20-point mercy rules exists.
The entire tournament is all run by previous Graham players, as the 2018 GHS graduates who played this past season, serve as game officials.
“The upcoming juniors and seniors on the volleyball team help coach the junior high teams on Monday night,” Faulk said. “The freshmen and sophomores work gate, concession and will be the line judges here on Mondays. (Older players) practice during the week with (junior high players) and it really says something about the type of kids we have in this community, who are willing to put in the extra time to help the younger athletes thrive.”
The Lady Blues top squad of three teams began action against Millsap on Tuesday. After a back-and-forth contest in the early moments, the Lady Blues began to take the upper hand.
After back-to-back kills from Chloe Menard and Jillian Wendell and two consecutive aces by Britain Thayer, Graham turned a tight 6-4 advantage into a decisive 16-6 lead.
Avery Iles, Celeste Aguirre, Anna Bara, Alex Husen, Sierra Morris and Meredith Armstrong each contributed, to knock off the Lady Bulldogs by a score of 36-25.
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