High school volleyball: All-Area teams
Just sitting in her first-period Spanish class, Buford High junior Gabby Curry wasn’t really paying attention as her teacher queued up a video.
Then, as she heard the video say something, in English no less, about sports, she peeked up to see what was going on.
The video was a message directed at Curry, The Times’ Area Volleyball Player of the Year.
“It said, ‘Congratulations, you’re the Gatorade Player of the Year,’” Curry said. “My jaw dropped. I had absolutely no clue.”
Curry had quite a junior season with the Lady Wolves volleyball team. She led the squad to the first state championship in program history, was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association Class AAAA Player of the Year and she was a MaxPreps Medium Schools All-American Second Team selection.
Despite the praise and accolades pouring in from the state and national level, Curry, who amassed 508 digs, 283 kills, 116 aces and 30 assists, said she doesn’t see herself as very productive performance-wise. She even played down her stats, saying she didn’t think she had very good numbers this year.
“I’m not the biggest, I’m not the most powerful, I’m not the best hitter. I don’t even like hitting,” Curry said. “I didn’t focus on the performance part. For me, I’m really a verbal leader.”
Curry said she often gets asked by classmates why she’s so intense on the court, but she can’t see the game being played any other way. That was instilled in her on her under-14 club team when she was playing under a Marine drill sergeant.
For Curry, it was what she learned on that 14-U team that sets her apart. It allows her to shake off mistakes, see past teammates’ mistakes, pick the team up and keep everyone encouraged.
“I would say my mental toughness is what separates me from just the average and my team from the average,” she said. “It’s not just me. I can see it on everyone’s face. If they mess up, it doesn’t phase them anymore.”
At the start of the season, Curry made one of the biggest decisions about her career - where she’d be playing at the next level.
She’s decided she’ll be playing at “libero U.”
“I started off my recruiting with no clue what I wanted or where I wanted to go,” Curry said. “Everyone else has a dream school of where they want to go and I never did.”
Curry ended up with six formal offers, but had many more promised spots over the phone from coaches wanting her to take a visit to their campus. She was in talks with schools like Florida, Missouri, Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Kentucky.
Georgia Tech, where one of her older brothers is enrolled, was the first to offer Curry.
In the end, she narrowed it to two schools. While she was visiting one school, all she could think about was Kentucky blue.
“My parents are the laid back type because they’d been through this before with my brothers,” Curry said. “I let God take over and show me where I wanted to go and he did.
“I was on a recruiting trip at the other school and all I could think about was Kentucky and comparing it to Kentucky.”
On Sept. 1, she made her mind up and committed.
Curry said she fell in love with the coaching staff, the campus and the girls she’d be playing with, including those who will be coming in with her as freshmen.
After making her commitment to the Wildcats, Curry brought her mind back to the Lady Wolves.
Playing under MaxPreps Medium Schools All-American Coach of the Year, Hadli Daniels, Curry and her teammates rattled of a 41-0 season on their way to hoisting the state champ trophy.
Buford is no stranger to unbeaten runs, though.
“I would definitely say it was a lot different this year than it was last year,” Curry said. “Last year, when we started off 15-0, there was pressure not to lose or we wouldn’t be undefeated anymore. This year, it wasn’t as big of a deal. I think it was around 30 (wins) when we realized that we were still undefeated.”
Curry said this year’s team, which only will only graduate one senior, was extremely close, which helped down the stretch.
“When it comes down to the playoffs, it depends on how well we get along,” she said. “We did a lot. We’re all great friends off the court. We can tell each other when we suck. We’re all close.”
The junior also said the Lady Wolves were very clutch.
Though the recognition is there and her future at a Division I program is waiting, Curry still has one more season at Buford and she sees it as nothing but an opportunity to keep getting better.
“(The Gatorade Player of the Year Award) gave me a little bit of confidence, but it’s kind of a step back kind of thing because you’re being recognized, but now you have to go perform,” Curry said. “Getting the award was telling me that I need to keep improving. I want to win it again next year. Everyone else is getting better, so I want to get better too.”
Regardless of if she wins it again or not, Curry knows she wouldn’t be up for it without help from her teammates.
“Honestly, I can be the best player in the world and we would lose every game if I didn’t have players around me,” she said. “It’s hard for club players to go back to high school because you may not have people around you on the same level. At my high school, I’m so lucky. I’m blessed.”