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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Beyond the court: Midtown volleyball players shine in national recognition

The+varisty+volleyball+team+huddles+up+before+their+opening+match+of+the+season+against+North+Atlanta+on+Aug.+10th.+The+Knights+won+in+straight+sets+3-0.
Ellie Palaian
The varisty volleyball team huddles up before their opening match of the season against North Atlanta on Aug. 10th. The Knights won in straight sets 3-0.

After a volleyball season ending with the team 32-12 and a loss to Kell in the second round of the state playoffs, three Midtown players were recognized for national awards from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). 

Senior Savannah Markham was added to the AVCA All-American Watchlist, a list of the top 1,000 senior volleyball players in the country. Sophomores Lucy Konisky and Brennan Fritts were put on the AVCA Phenom Watchlist, which consists of the top 3,000 freshmen, sophomore and junior volleyball players in the country. 

Savannah Markham, senior

Senior Savannah Markham was placed on the AVCA All-American Watchlist after four seasons with the Knights. Markham’s consistency, leadership and skill have been large factors in her success on the team. (Ellie Palaian)

Savannah Markham has been playing volleyball for almost six years, and has been playing for Midtown all four years of her high school career, becoming captain her senior year. Throughout these years, she said the team has connected, which has helped its development.

“The varsity team, over time, has gotten closer, I would say,” Markham said. “I think everyone this season has tried really hard to be inclusive of everyone and not as cliquey as in the past, allowing us to really play well as a team.”

Along with the team improving, Markham has focused a lot of time into getting better. During her club season with M2, she played up on an older team, which she said forced her to improve.

“Over club season, I had a coach that was tough on me and pushed me,” Markham said. “I had to fight for my spot on the court as I played up a year for the 18-1s (U18, team 1), where there were two other girls who played my position and were older than me. This allowed me to push myself in practice and never slack [off] because I wanted that spot on the court, which let me focus on my skills and become better.”

Head coach Sandi Stein said Markham has been a constant player and a good teammate throughout her four years. 

“Savannah’s one of those kids that can do it all, and she just has gotten more consistent with [the game],” Stein said. “She’s a great leader on that court. It’s hard to say much about her because she’s always been a rock for us.”

Junior Lucia Olivera, who has been on varsity for two years, said Markham’s consistency throughout the years has been key in helping the team.

“Savannah is an incredible player and teammate;she’s always been such an important part of the team and a really supportive and nice person,” Olivera said. “I think that she is a great leader to the team; she’s always been a super strong player and playing on the same team as her is amazing.”

Markham said she didn’t expect to be on the AVCA All-American WatchList, but that it was rewarding, nonetheless.

“When I got the text from my club coach that I was on the All-American watchlist, it felt surreal,” Markham said. “I always loved playing volleyball, but I was always really hard on myself having high standards, so getting that email was a big surprise to me because I never thought I would get noticed on such a level.”

Lucy Konisky, sophomore

Sophomore Lucy Konisky moved up from the junior varsity team to the varisty team her freshman year, but has quickly impacted the varsity team. Konisky joins Fritts on the AVCA Phenom Watchlist. (Ellie Palaian)

By the end of her freshman year, Lucy Konisky started to level-up from the junior varsity team to the varsity team, gaining more playing time on the varsity squad.  This past season, as a sophomore, Konisky was placed on the AVCA Phenom Watchlist. Konisky said she credits her success to playing with her club team, A5, and the competitive spirit on the varsity team.

“Club really helped me get better; it’s better training, and you have more tournaments,” Konisky said. “I’m being worked much harder; this season everyone is more competitive and works harder.”

Sophomore Siri Bluestone has played with Konisky on junior varsity and varsity. She said Konisky has improved in all aspects of the game with the help of her club.

“Lucy went to a good club, and she was able to get a lot better,” Bluestone said. “I’ve noticed that her sets are a lot more consistent along with her serves, and her defense also got better.”

Junior Vivienne Cannon has also seen improvement from Konisky, having played with her since middle school.

“[Konisky] was able to get a lot of reps in [through her club team] and was able to fine tune what she needed to work on,” Cannon said. “I played with her [in] her first season at Ace [volleyball club] when she played up [an age group], and she’s definitely a staple to our team, and she’s just been really wonderful on varsity.”

Konisky’s pace has helped move her up to var

sity, along with her talent. Stein said she was put on junior varsity her freshman year to help her develop.

“Lucy’s always had the skills,” Stein said. “I had a seasoned setter last year that she was not going to be playing in front of, so I needed her to run the offense for JV so that she could step right into the varsity role. She’s developed a lot over the past year with the club [season] and everything else. She sets the tempo, which is what we like.”

Konisky said being on the list is encouraging and proves her effort is having positive results that are being noticed by people nationally. 

“It was very exciting, and I’m very honored to have received it,” Konisky said. “It’s good to know that all your hard work pays off.”

Brennan Fritts, sophomore

Sophomore Brennan Fritts was placed the AVCA Phenom Watchlist for back-to-back years. Fritts has been an asset on the team since her freshman year, and has shown growth in both her mental game and her skill as well. (Ellie Palaian)

Brennan Fritts has been playing volleyball since sixth grade and was the only freshman on the varsity team last season. Both this season and last season, she was placed on the AVCA Phenom Watchlist, something she described as an honor.

“It was a huge honor both last year and this year to be on the watchlist,” Fritts said. “Being recognized on any level is always so affirming. It just lets you know that all the work you are putting in is making a difference in your performance.”

Fritts, like Markham, plays club volleyball with M2. She said she is able to improve the most when the school season isn’t in session.

“The club season is really the time to work on your form and showcase your talents,” Fritts said. “I’ve put in so much work during the club season with regular practices three times a week and then private [training] and lessons on top of that. Without [the] club season, I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am or received any awards.”

Stein credits Fritts talent to her resourcefulness. Her freshman season, she played middle, but her sophomore season, she was moved to play outside hitter.

“Brennan was our middle last year, and we really need her to be that middle,” Stein said. “[This season], we moved her to the outside because we need her there, as well. She can play really any position, which makes her very versatile for us.”

Cannon, who has played with Fritts since Fritts’ freshman year, said the mentality Fritts has always had, along with the slight adjustments to it from last season to this season, have helped in her growth and development.

“She likes being good; she’s very competitive, which I think drives her to always excel,” Cannon said. “Her mentality has really improved because she used to be hard on herself and get upset when she made a mistake, which could impact the rest of the game for her, but now she’s able to shake it off, and she smiles the whole time.”

Fritts said, despite losing the seniors after this season, the team is looking strong for next year due to a strong base of young players.

“I think Midtown has a lot of talent in our underclassmen,” Fritts said. “Obviously, we’re going to miss all of our seniors, but I think Midtown volleyball has grown to a point where we will have a strong program for years to come.”

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About the Contributors
Sinclair Richman, Sports Associate Managing Editor
Sinclair Richman is a junior and this is her third year writing for The Southerner. In her free time, she plays basketball and soccer for Midtown and is a part of the BETA Club and Latin club. She is excited to continue working on the paper.
Ellie Palaian, Sports Managing Editor
Ellie Palaian is a senior and this is her third year on staff for The Southerner. She plays soccer and basketball for Midtown High and is excited to write for the paper this year.

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