Maybe it was the power of suggestion that did it for Jordan McCalla. Maybe it was going to happen anyway.
Regardless of how the story goes, it really doesn’t matter how Grapevine’s junior 6-1 outside hitter evolved into a six-rotation player. The end result is that she has emerged as the Lady Mustangs’ most consistent performer.
District play begins Friday, Sept. 11 against one of the Lady Mustangs’ toughest challenges in Birdville. But Grapevine has handled a brutal non-district schedule that included as many Class 6A programs as 5A programs. The Lady Mustangs were 15-14 before they played non-district matches against Coppell on Sept. 4 and Keller on Tuesday.
McCalla (6-1) is just beginning to understand how much her height can be a value for her team. Head coach Kori Cooper has rarely found a reason to take her off the floor. McCalla is at the top of most statistical categories for this team.
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She leads the squad at 3.3 kills per set, 4.0 digs per set and 38 aces. Now, you know why she’s on the court.
“When I was playing as a freshman, I was just out there,” McCalla said. “But one of my coaches came up to me and said that they needed me to play six rotations. I thought it wasn’t a big deal. But now I can see what was meant. There are so many positions and you really have to keep your focus. It’s getting more and more comfortable when I’m out there.”
Cooper knows the impact a six rotation player can make for a team. Even with McCalla’s height, if she can be a strong defender in the back row that makes Grapevine much more difficult to play. There won’t be as many soft spots on the floor.
For any player, the key is mastering the serve receive game. If McCalla is handling an incoming serve and able to set up the offense, then it makes everything flow. Defensively, McCalla has been using her height to save balls that would otherwise be lost causes and sustain rallies.
“The best thing about Jordan is that she’s coachable,” Cooper said. “I’m sure it’s between what her club team has done and what we’ve done. But when she came back this season, I just saw someone who was strong and steady. You could tell that she was ready to go.”
But McCalla recognizes her overall game is a work in progress. She has to constantly remind herself to stay in a crouched and ready position. That’s easier said than done. Yet it’s a teachable element.
The work McCalla has put in between Grapevine and her club team (Tejas) has Division I programs interested. She said she’s hearing from West Virginia, Central Florida, San Diego and Arkansas. None of those teams have offered. Evaluation is still ongoing. Plus, it’s likely they want to see how she performs this fall.
Time will tell how that will unfold. For now, Cooper needs McCalla to be a leader on a team that features four freshmen.
“The most important thing I can do is play hard for my teammates,” McCalla said. “But I just want to make every part of my game better.”