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Athlete of the Week: West Hall's Kelsi Jones

Versatile senior leading Lady Spartans by example

POSTED: September 16, 2013 10:01 p.m.

One word isn’t sufficient to sum up the role that Kelsi Jones plays on the West Hall volleyball team, but encouraging, experienced and overachieving are a few that coach Joe Nelson used to describe the versatile senior.

“(Jones) has been a constant team leader,” Nelson said. “She’s from a core of players from the last four years that had done really well, so she’s experienced. She’s like having a coach on the court.”

The Lady Spartans began the season with a group of inexperienced players. Some were freshmen, some had been on the junior varsity team, and others simply hadn’t gotten much time on the court in their careers. They had a rocky start, but Jones was solid throughout the rough patches, and her expertise, encouragement and leadership helped her teammates develop into stronger players. Together, the group of growing players that are currently a six-game winning streak.

Last week, Jones recorded 68 kills, 29 aces and 27 assists for West Hall in thise six wins — the team’s first sweeps of the season.

For her efforts, Jones is The Times’ Athlete of the Week.

“She has played almost every position on the team except setter, so she has a pretty good repertoire of skills,” Nelson said. “She shares that experience with players that are playing now, and she will reinforce what I and other coaches have taught her.”

Jones played club volleyball for a year along with her four years of high school volleyball, but she said that she gets a large portion of her skills from playing with players outside her teams.

“Every offseason I’ve had, I’ve worked with a lot of different coaches, and I’ve been in open gyms playing with a lot of different athletes,” Jones said.

Although she has developed a wide range of talents this way, she believes that hitting is her main strength.

“Hitting is my best skill, but I’ve worked on my setting and my defense,” Jones said. “I acquired a jump serve this year, and it has earned me quite a few aces these past few games.”

Jones is such a strong hitter, she once broke a club teammate’s fingers in practice.

“I’ve always had a lot of power,” Jones said. “It took me a while to learn to control it, but it’s been really fun manipulating the game and placing things with authority.”

Her skills have begun to translate into the other members of her team thanks to her assistance and encouragement, and Jones and Nelson agree that the changes the team made have created momentum the Lady Spartans are not ready to give up.

“You always need a player or two that is a role model for the rest of the team that gives inexperienced players someone to look to so they can imitate those skills, and (Jones) is already helping them,” Nelson said.

Nelson changed the defense some and added a couple of newer players to the lineup, but what really changed were the intangibles.

“The big thing for us is that we played with confidence for the first time,” Jones said, of the recent winning streak.

“The crowd was excited with us, we minimized our errors, and we played like the team we knew we could be.”

Now that West Hall has a taste of victory, Jones noted that the team is hungry for more.

“This is going to be a different team for the rest of the season. People are going to start looking out for the Lady Spartans.”


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