CEDAR RAPIDS — Sports, for some, are more about the memories and bonds made rather than the awards they receive.
The Xavier volleyball seniors are the most decorated class in program history, but when asked about their awards, the girls said they enjoy the memories they have made with each other more than the accolades received — things like an all-time school career assist record holder, the most blocks for a single season and may Metro and Mississippi Valley Conference honors.
And, of course, the first state title in school history.
“It is an honor to be the most decorated class in program history, but it all has to do with the team and the coaches,” senior Eve Magill said. “Volleyball is a team sport and every year our class has had outstanding teammates and coaches to help get us to where we are now.”
The Saints spent each day growing and getting closer as a team, on and off the court, in order to be the best they could be for the state tournament. Due to COVID-19, they were not able to do much team bonding, but they were able to create good team chemistry.
“I love the sense of community this team brings,” Magill said. “It truly is my second family. I have been playing with some of the girls ever since fifth grade and I know them very well. We are also really close with the coaches and get along really well, so we are able to work together to reach our end goal.”
The Saints did not take the state tournament for granted and worked hard to prepare for the outcome they wanted.
“We prepared for state by working on our blocking assignments based on our scouting report and made sure we were giving 100 percent effort every point,” senior Katy Garrison said.
The Saints’ season also helped them prepare for the state tournament.
“By playing the toughest schedule in the state, we learned our strengths and weaknesses,” Coach Austin Filer said. “We learned how to stay focused in matches that we (were) up and how to fight in matches that we (were) down.
“We know what it took to get to the championship game again.”
Being at state the past five years helped these girls gain confidence.
“It’s a very different feeling in the Cell Center (now the Alliant Energy PowerHouse) and I felt more prepared than I ever had,” said senior Jazmine Yamilkoski, who was named the Class 4A state player of the year. “There was a little bit of a chip on my shoulder.”
The Saints finished their season doing something no other Xavier volleyball team had done.
“Winning state feels so good, we’ve been working for four years and we get to leave Xavier on a win,” Yamilkoski said.
To add on to the awards the Saints have received this year, Magill and senior Elyse Winter earned all-tournament recognition and Yamilkoski was named the all-tournament team captain.
“It feels good to be the all-tournament team captain, I’m just proud that we won,” Yamilkoski said.
Garrison said she will take the lessons she learned with her for the rest of her life.
“Xavier volleyball has made me a better person both on and off the court,” she said. “It has helped me develop friendships that will last a lifetime.
“Winning the state tournament is a dream come true. Coming in as a freshman, I had only dreamed we would ever be where we are today. It is amazing to see the dream become a reality.”