Lady Blues breaks school record in win over Iowa Park
When the 2019 UIL volleyball season began, Lady Blues volleyball coach Marci Faulk stated that the team has a goal of winning 30 games. That was the expectation set among the 11 junior and four senior squad. Thirty wins was the baseline set for a successful season.
“Anything less than a 30-win season is a failure to the girls on this team,” she said. The Lady Blues have won 30 matches every year in Faulk’s tenure at Graham. Little did Faulk or her team know just what they could achieve.
After defeating Iowa Park 3-1 on senior night, the 2019 varsity Lady Blues volleyball team achieved their 38th win of the season, setting a new school record. The previous record was 37 wins, established by the Lu Allen-led 2001 team. An achievement that even the 2001 team did not know they had achieved.
"It's an honor," said senior Lily Brockway. "She's done a lot here and for us to be able to match it. It's an honor."
The 2001 Lady Blues were led by Kaci (Hobson) Clayton, who was named district most valuable player. Other players included Tiffany Shifflett (district offensive MVP) and Nicole Balderson (district defensive MVP).
"I had no idea (that we set a record)," said Clayton. "We were a really good team, and coach Allen put us through a tough schedule. If she knew it, she probably didn't want it to affect our play."
Under Lu Allen the Lady Blues won six district championships and went to regionals on four occasions. Allen died before the start of the 2004 season. Graham hosts an annual volleyball tournament in Allen's honor to raise money for a scholarship named after Allen.
"I would never put myself in the same realm (as Lu Allen)," said coach Marci Faulk. "From all of the stories I've heard about her, it's an honor."
The current edition of the Lady Blues opened the season with a 16-match win streak, including winning the Shallowater tournament. Their first loss came to Brock in the bracket round of the Lu Allen Memorial Tournament. They lost matches against Boyd and Victory Christian before leaving for Gulf Shores, Ala.
In the Foley Tournament, the Lady Blues dropped one set in the entire tournament en route to the championship. Senior Chloe Menard was named tournament MVP. The team rattled off a 12-match winning streak before falling to Rider on Sept. 20. The senior night victory marks the team’s third 10-match win streak of the season.
"We didn't realize that we were that good," said senior Britain Thayer after the team earned its 38th victory. "It's a boost of confidence going into the playoffs."
Clayton was proud and had some words for the 2019 Lady Blues varsity volleyball team.
"I hope the girls this year keep playing well and winning," she said. "I know how much fun they are having and all the memories they are making with their coaches and teammates(...)I hope they keep winning and I'll be rooting for them to beat our record by nine games."