Timber Creek seniors lead team to make history

Posted Monday, Nov. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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It’s not quite as intense as the decision in “Sophie’s Choice,” but Timber Creek head volleyball coach Cathy Reeves was not going to pick a particular player for focus as a “player of the week” following their dramatic five-set play-in match win against Keller last Friday night.

Instead, Reeves preferred to shine a light on her seniors who are leading the Lady Falcons into the program’s first playoff appearance in school history.

“Their freshman year was Timber Creek’s first year to play a varsity schedule and my first year as the head coach, so these girls have been through every step of our growing pains with me,” Reeves said in a written overview of her reflection of the senior class. “Because of that, I think they can appreciate more than anyone else how sweet Friday night's victory was.”

Those seniors, Lauren Mills, Taylor Terry, Kendall Carter, Kellie Simmons, Jenna Zalesky and Brianna Holmes, have led Timber Creek through a trying, but successful season. The tie-breaker game with Keller last Friday was indicative of the season. Keller had gone ahead 2 games to 1 headed into game 4.

“I told the girls that they did not have to win,” Reeves said. “The pressure was on Keller to win because they were ahead. I told them that all they had to do was give their very best on every play and every point. And if they did that, then their best would be good enough to win. They needed to focus on each other and not on the scoreboard. And you could see them doing that, even when we got behind. Their confidence never wavered – that's what seniors can bring to the court.”

Each senior had a similar and yet unique perspective on the season and the ultimate moments following the realization that the Lady Falcons were indeed headed to the playoffs.

Timber Creek was set to take on Arlington on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at L.D. Bell in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Results can be found at dfwvarsity.com.

Mills is the only four-year letterman on the team and a strong outside hitter. “Every year we’ve gotten better and finally all the hard work is paying off,” Mills said.

As seniors, many would expect added pressure on the six players to make the difference.

“At the beginning of the (Keller) game, we told the team this is our last chance, this is our game,” Mills said. “We told everyone to get motivated. Reality set in with the seniors,” Mills said.

Holmes, who has played on the varsity for three years, said she felt more pressure was on the underclassmen. “Because it was our senior year and our last chance to go to the playoffs, the underclassmen felt they had to help make it happen,” she said. “They didn’t let us down. Not at all.”

For Terry, another three-year letterman and middle blocker, the Keller game seemed like it went on in slow motion for a long time. Once it was over, though, “It was kind of unreal,” as Terry described it. Terry also credited the underclassmen who stepped up. “I’m very proud of everyone because we worked together so well,” she said.

“We have a lot of experience on our team,” Zalesky said. “We really came together as a team which really has helped us out. There was just a little bit of pressure, but we just wanted to reach one of our goals and fulfill our dream,” she said.

After the game, the reality did start to sink in, but the atmosphere on the bus was hard to decipher.

“We were so excited, Mills recounted, “but afterward on the bus it was so quiet. We were all so busy tweeting and texting and posting on Instagram.”

Simmons acknowledged being the school’s first volleyball team to make the playoffs was a big honor. “It’s just a great feeling to help do that.” Simmons also said the team was headed into the playoffs as if it’s “just another match. We’ll have fun with the game,” she said.

“It was an amazing feeling to actually go to playoffs,” said Carter. “To set a foundation for future generations to look forward to is just amazing.”

Reeves agreed about the legacy for these seniors.

“These six girls bring strong leadership to the program. They are the program's foundation, and they have taken pride in knowing that they are the ones to whom future Falcons will look,” Reeves said.

Carter said both Timber Creek and Arlington are good teams and due to the volleyball club season, many of the players know each other.

Reeves also will be able to finalize a challenge presented to her team.

“Every day at practice, we have looked at the banners that hang in our gym, and I have been telling them that this is the year that they could add ‘Volleyball’ to that display. And now we can,” she said.

For at least through Tuesday’s game, Reeves will do what she’s done for the last four years.

“I've been filling out my line-ups with the same names and numbers for the past few years – No. 9 Lauren and No. 6 Taylor and No. 5 Holmes on the front line; No. 11 Kendall and No. 3 Jenna and No. 8 Kellie setting,” Reeves wrote. “It's going to be tough next year not having these kids to put out on the court. They have invested so much into this team, and it feels great knowing that their time and energy and talent have paid off. I have always told them that ‘good things happen to good people,’ and it means the world to me that this happened for them.”

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