Jonesing for the 2019 season

What happens when the #1 ranked player in the AVCTL league is suffering from a back injury to start the season?

Preparing+to+deliver+a+serve+in+practice%2C+Laurel+Jones+focuses+in+on+the+holes+to+attack+against+the+defense.
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Jonesing for the 2019 season

Preparing to deliver a serve in practice, Laurel Jones focuses in on the holes to attack against the defense.

Preparing to deliver a serve in practice, Laurel Jones focuses in on the holes to attack against the defense.

Photo courtesy of Laurel Jones

Preparing to deliver a serve in practice, Laurel Jones focuses in on the holes to attack against the defense.

Photo courtesy of Laurel Jones

Photo courtesy of Laurel Jones

Preparing to deliver a serve in practice, Laurel Jones focuses in on the holes to attack against the defense.

Angelo Silva, Bullseye Photo Editor

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Last year, sophomore Laurel Jones won the ‘AVCTL’s Most Valuable Player’ as a setter for the Mavericks. Since then, the media buzz prior to her junior year has been on fire, as Jones was just named the #1 ranked volleyball player in the area from the Wichita Eagle and Kansas.com.

Jones is still getting used to the attention from the student body, volleyball coaches and professional media around the Wichita-metro area.

“Sometimes I get nervous, but a lot of people are really nice about it. And they congratulate me and are really supportive about it and I think it’s a lot of fun,”said Jones.

Going into this season, she has already been compared to former Rose Hill volleyball standout Gracie Van Driel. According to Varsity Kansas, she could be the most likely candidate to become the next great player in the Wichita-metro area, calling Jones the “most likely candidate” to fulfill the role of the area’s top player.

Driel was a four-year letter winner in volleyball at Rose Hill High School in 2016 and 2017. Driel would eventually be named the Kansas 4A Volleyball Player of the Year in 2016 and a 2017 2018 All-Metro Volleyball Team selection.

According to Jones, hearing that she is being compared to Driel is quite the comparison.

“I’ve played with her a lot. And so I think it’s kind of fun that I’m being compared to her. She’s a really good player,” Jones said.
“I’ve actually been recruited since my freshman year, I committed so I’m going to Marquette. So I did all that freshmen year. So yeah, I’ve already got that set,”said Jones.

Recruitment started for Jones her freshman volleyball season. Big East volleyball power Marquette was a stand out school for Jones from the start.

 

Jones captured a 2018 All-Metro volleyball nomination in just her sophomore year for the Mavericks.

“They had the best coaches, definitely and I just love the campus, it’s a great city and it’s just a lot of fun. Every time I go up there for camp I absolutely love it,” said Jones.

Head Coach Teri Larson believes has seen first hand the mental drain Jones has gone through with fighting through her injuries. She’s keeping a close eye on Jones early in the year and monitoring her health accordingly.

“Last year when we qualified for state she didn’t even get to play because she had shin-splints really bad and the doctors shut her down, so then she got better, played club-ball and hurt her back,” Larson said. “So we’re really watching her closely this year and then so she is only going to be a setter not a hitter….we changed her offense to accommodate her healing,” said Larson.

Larson is sure that even with the current injuries Jones is fighting through, she will still be a real x-factor for the Mavericks 2019 season.

“She is injured, she can still play at a high level, we just have to watch the jumping, the landing because of her back and foot issues,” Larson said. “So we have high expectations this year. Even though we lost a lot of senior players, we have had a lot of new kids come in that play at a high level.”

Jones has come to terms with her current injury situation but still plans to contribute at a high level for her team. Regardless of awards and recognition, she’s enthusiastic about her one of her favorite parts of volleyball: setting up her teammates for points at the net.

“I’m not sure if I expect to really get more. I know I’ve gotten a lot of them from being a hitter…. That’s how I get a lot of my awards but I have an injured back right now so I’m not hitting this season. So I’m not sure if I’ll really get anything but I like to set more!” Jones said.