Bump, set, hit…and win. That’s Coach Carla Weems’ mottos when coaching Grandview’s volleyball team. And it’s one that’s led to the team being able to boast a 12-0 conference season and division and county championships.
A David Crockett and Tusculum grad and volleyball alumna of both schools, Weems has coached the Lady Eagles for nine years. She said the most important thing she can pass on to her girls is a love for volleyball basics. She said a lot of girls go into high school without knowing those foundations, which can be overwhelming and hinder their success.
“A lot of my players, even if they haven’t played travel ball, they’ve played for me for three years so they’ve got those skills that I teach each year — bump set hit, which they’ll use at the high school level,” Weems said. “My girls are doing what’s expected of them at the next level.
Most ofthe time when a kid comes out of middle school, they still have a lot of learning in volleyball to do and my girls will probably have a lot of learning, but they’ll learn more in high school because they’re going to have all of their basics done.”
Weems also said some of the teams they face only focus on getting the ball over the net, which can sometimes challenge her girls to learn how to respond quickly in those situations.
In middle school ball, teams must win just two out of the three games to win a match.
Weems said rarely do her girls lose even one game. In tournament play this season, prior to a Monday night matchup against Sullivan County champion Sullivan Middle, they had only lost to two teams, Ross Robinson at the Smokey Mountain Classic in Gatlinburg and Knox Farragut in pre-season play.
“This age group is so willing to learn and they want to get better and they don’t want to just pass the ball over the net,” Weems said. “They want to pass it and feel the success of doing something the right way. Even if they did lose, they say, ‘well coach we did the right thing. We tried to play the game the right way.’ So they’re not disappointed if they lose a game because they’re playing the right way.
“With my team, we always try to bump, set and hit the ball because that’s what they’re going to do in high school so that’s what I’ve taught. We’ve lost a few games over the years because of that, but I would rather the girls learn how to do it and how to be successful than for them to just get the ball over the net to win.”
Learning to play the right way has paid off with championships not only this year, but last year and 2010 for Coach Weems. She said this year’s team plays well together and has for the last two or three years.
On Monday, the team took on Sullivan Middle School, Sullivan County’s 2015 champion, on that team’s home floor in Sullivan Gardens. The Lady Eagles fell 25-11, 25-18, prompting Weems to say: “We played well tonight – they were just better.”
This year, all six of her starters are eighth graders and Weems said she expects several of them to go on to succeed in high school ball and will potentially do well at the college level. She mentioned Morgan Barkley, middle hitter; Madison Pleasant, setter; Ashley Forbes, middle hitter; and Jessica Foister, setter, all of whom she thought will not only make the high school team, but do very well there, if they continue with the basics.
“Morgan and Madison stand out to me because they play other sports, but volleyball is one of their passions,” she said. “They are very, very talented in volleyball. And any time Morgan hits the ball, the other team is in trouble.”
The duo try out for the KVC traveling team this week and Weems said she doesn’t think they’ll have any problem succeeding in that league as well.
“I want them to know the things that they’re going to have to know in order to achieve in high school and beyond,” Weems said. “Even if they don’t go on to play in high school or college, at least they can know and go on and maybe they can be able to help somebody else if they decide to be a coach some day or something like that.”