By TAYLOR GRAFFT
As the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers continue on the road to State, three seniors have poured their hearts and souls into the program on and off the court.
With so much success coming to the varsity volleyball team — a ninth place ranking in the Texas Girls Coaches Volleyball Poll, an undefeated finish in District 8-3A and a District and Bi-district title — it would be easy for these three girls to let that success go to their heads, but that’s not how Kallie Perrin, Mason Sharp and Madi Sharp roll.
Head Coach Gretchen Peterson has taught her players to be confident, not arrogant and that humbleness is evident when you talk to any of the girls who make up the varsity roster this season. Team is the key word that rings through the locker room and because of the special bond and team chemistry these 12 girls have built, it has allowed them to thrive on the court this season.
“This season has meant a lot to us,” said senior outside hitter Madi Sharp. “Just the strong relationships we have built this season. We’re like sisters and the bond and chemistry we’ve built is special. Not many people get to experience that kind of thing as a team because it’s rare.”
Senior setter Kallie Perrin said this year’s team is different from years past because it’s the closest group of teammates she has ever been with and that has made this year especially fun.
“It’s been a fun year,” said Perrin. “We are a lot closer than any of the other teams we’ve been on. And that makes you able to connect better with each other and more excited about the season and winning.”
Kallie, Mason and Madi played their final home game in the Panther Den against their big rival Burnet. The three seniors were honored before the match with a round of applause from friends and family, and their teammates presented them with pictures and hugs.
“It’s special because that was our senior night and it was against our rivals,” Perrin added. “Everyone is there and you’re with your family and teammates. It’s just a really emotional feeling.”
“The season has meant a lot,” said outside hitter Mason Sharp. “Especially since it’s our last year. Just being with everyone on the team is special.”
Madi Sharp felt like this team really picked up momentum after its dominating performance against Burnet.
“I felt like Burnet was one of our best games,” she said. “The team just connected really well and played solid all around.”
Perrin added that she felt a different vibe around the locker room from the very beginning.
“Last year and the year before, when we were in non-district and playing the big schools we weren’t winning as much. We were kind of getting embarrassed. But this year we started out really strong and at one point were first in state. Now we’re in ninth place. And that’s really cool because in my four years on varsity we’ve never been ranked that high,” Perrin said.
Mason Sharp said she felt like the turning point for this year’s team was in the match against Gatesville.
“I thought we played really well in that match,” she said. “We were all doing what we were supposed to and just played really well in all the games.”
Although the nostalgia hasn’t quite hit these three seniors yet, they all feel like it will be very emotional when they do play their final game.
“Every year you see the seniors in the past in the locker room crying,” Perrin said. “I don’t feel that yet, but I guess when you do get to your final game, it probably hits you and you feel that sadness.”
The seniors will be greatly missed by their coaches and teammates when the season is over, not just because of their extraordinary talents and dedication on the court, but because of their unique personalities and strong character off the court.
Once these seniors are finished and leave Liberty Hill, they all hope to continue their studies.
“I’m trying to get a track scholarship,” Madi Sharp said. “If I decide not to do track in college, I’ll just try to go to school and study.”
“I’m waiting to see how this season plays out to decide if I want to continue playing or not,” Perrin said. “If nothing comes out of that, I’ll probably end up going to Texas State to study medical diagnostic sonography.”
“I’m not looking to play sports after high school,” Mason Sharp said. “I’m just looking to focus on college and studying.”
Because of the possibility of not playing sports in college, it makes this playoff run that much more special, they said.