Competitive nature hallmark of EHS volleyball seniors

By Matt Hill

   Senior leadership is vital for having a solid team, and the Elizabethton Lady Cyclone volleyball squad had plenty of it.
   Michelle Collins and Holly Pearson were two very strong seniors on the Lady Cyclone team. And even though there weren't many wins this season, they still had success.
   Collins is a fierce competitor that admits she doesn't like to lose. That's why she has been so successful in both volleyball and softball.
   "I hate to lose," Collins said. "I'm very competitive, and I hate to lose."
   The Lady Cyclones fought hard this season, so Collins wasn't too disappointed in the lack of wins.
   "We're a very good team," Collins said. "We just didn't step up together and come out with a win."
   Collins will go down as one of the best volleyball players to ever step on the court at Elizabethton. She finished the season third all time in single-season kills, fourth in single-season digs, and second in single-season serving percentage at EHS.
   Career wise, Collins ranks No. 1 in school history in digs and No. 2 at EHS in career kills.
   But Collins was humble when talking about her career and this season at EHS.
   "Sometimes I did well and sometimes I didn't," Collins said. "My year was OK, but it wasn't the best. It was all right."
   EHS head coach Leslee Bradley is very proud of Collins for all the she has accomplished on the volleyball court.
   "I'm real proud of Michelle for being the career leader in digs," Bradley said. "That's something that a person who hustles is going to achieve. Michelle hustles, and she's a smart player. She could read what the other team was going to do before it happened. She knew what spot to go cover on the court, and she was able to get to a lot of balls that people might not expect to get to, because she was such a smart player and she hustled so much."
   Collins success on the athletic fields should translate into a college scholarship. Collins says she has some offers on the table.
   "I want to go to college and play either softball or volleyball," Collins said. I've got plenty of offers for both volleyball and softball."
   Pearson is also a player that competes with a lot of heart. She says the whole team is like that, and knows this squad did its best this season.
   "We really put our heart and soul into every game," Pearson said. "We left everything out on the floor, but we still never came up with wins. That was very frustrating."
   Pearson thought there was one particular game this season that showed how much the team wanted to win.
   In the final home game against Sullivan North, the Lady Cyclones nearly pulled of an upset against a team that won the Watauga Conference regular-season title.
   "That was a nail-biter," Pearson said. "Even after the game we were talking about how we were proud to play that well even though we didn't win."
   Pearson and the other seniors tried to lead by example. The EHS volleyball program is still growing in stature, so Pearson hopes the group has made the younger kids look up to them.
   "I thought we have," Pearson said. "Not only in the way we play, but in our leadership and our attitude. We really work together and respect the rest of the team."
   At a school where sports like football and soccer get most of the attention, Pearson is hoping to see volleyball one day get to that stature at EHS.
   "I would absolutely love it," Pearson said. "For volleyball to get the kind of support that the other sports have, I think is great."
   Bradley feels like Collins and Pearson have represented the volleyball team well the last few years.
   "Individually, we knew coming into the season that they were going to be our leaders," Bradley said. "They were proven players and had been starters since their sophomore years. We knew we need to look for them."
   Overall, Bradley is proud of her whole senior class.
   "Lauran Marlow was a starter all season long," Bradley said. "She really worked hard, and gave it all that she had. I'm real pleased with the effort she gave. Megan Street was my other senior, and she was just a second year player. She didn't get much playing time, but she was a hard worker and she had a good attitude. She helped keep everybody's spirits up throughout the season."