Gabby Deery had some mighty big shoes to fill this season for the Notre Dame High School volleyball team.
Deery, the 2021 Class 1A Player of the Year after helping the Nikes win their second straight Class 1A state championship, found herself surrounded by a new group of hitters, a new setter and several new back-row players.
With opposing defenses focusing most of their attention on the 6-foot-1 outside hitter rose to the occasion, at times putting the team on her back.
By the time all was said and done, the Nikes had grown together as a team and made it to a Class 1A regional final before falling to rival Holy Trinity in four tough sets.
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Deery, who often had her right shoulder packed in ice and took ice baths after matches, put together yet another outstanding season, earning Class 1A Player of the Year honors for the second straight season.
“This season was a challenge as we had several new players who were learning new positions and adjusting to the role they would play on the team,:” said Deery, The Hawk Eye’s Player of the Year. “With a determined attitude, many hours in the gym, and competing in tournaments against big schools, our team connected. Our success throughout the season showed that our hard work was paying off. We had some very exciting wins including the SEISC Superconference Tournament and beating Holy Trinity and New London in season. We had a goal to make it to the state tournament once again, but fell short. It still hurts, but I am grateful for my coaches, teammates, and fans for a wonderful senior season. This past weekend I was able to play in the senior All-Star competition in Des Moines. It was so much fun to play with the top players in the state and to get to wear my Notre Dame jersey one last time.”
Deery averaged 4.5 kills, 0.5 blocks and 2.4 digs per set for the Nikes, who went 31-14 for the season. Her kill efficiency was .304 and she served 92.6 percent with 48 aces.
Deery was the picture of grace under pressure, showing why she will play volleyball for the University of Iowa next season.
“I definitely have the personality to put extra pressure on myself. I am very competitive and always try to be better than I was the day before,” Deery said. “Sports has taught me a lot about hard work and the importance of giving 110[percentineverythingIdoAttheendofthedayIplayvolleyballbecauseIloveitandhavefundoingitThisattitudehashelpedmerealizevolleyballisjustagameOurteammotto”RallyforReid”definitelyputsthingsinperspective”[percentineverythingIdoAttheendofthedayIplayvolleyballbecauseIloveitandhavefundoingitThisattitudehashelpedmerealizevolleyballisjustagameOurteammotto”RallyforReid”definitelyputsthingsinperspective”
Deery, who made the switch from middle hitter to outside hitter last season, took on added responsibility as a team captain and leader of a young and largely inexperienced team this season.
“My role this year changed for sure. Coach (Mike) Davis named me captain at the beginning of the season which I happily took on,” Deery said. “I felt confident taking this role as I have been around volleyball most of my life. At the beginning of the season, Coach (Susan) Reid reminded me of the importance of having a positive attitude, being uplifting, and not allowing myself to ever show I am having a bad day. I kept her advice with me and tried to demonstrate it throughout the whole season.”
Deery left her legacy at Notre Dame as one of, if not the best, volleyball player in school history. And she helped lay the groundwork for a program which will be solid for years to come.
“Even though we fell short making it to the state tournament, I am glad to have had the experience of winning the state championship two years in a row,” Deery said. “That is something I will never forget. I am thankful for my parents and sisters, teammates, and coaches for believing in me. I am very honored to be named the 1A volleyball player of the year.”
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA Today Network in Burlington, Iowa, who has covered local sports for 32 years at The Hawk Eye. Reach him at [email protected]