By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director
SAND ROCK – Sand Rock senior libero Chloe Stephens had volleyball scholarships to play elsewhere, but in the end, the lure of playing with her sister Jacey at a place she’s come to love was just too much for her to pass up.
Stephens made her decision to become a preferred walk on at Snead State final on Wednesday. She accumulated 911 digs, 90 aces, 84 assists and five kills for the Class 2A state runner-up Lady Wildcats (49-18) last season.
For her career, Stephens posted 2,103 digs and also had 252 aces as a server. She helped Sand Rock earn 131 wins in three years, including two county championships, three area championships and two Final Fours.
“I’m really excited,” Stephens said of the chance to play at Snead with her sister. “A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to play with their sister, so that’s why I decided to take an academic walk-on rather than go play with an athletic (scholarship). A lot of people don’t get to experience that. I think it’s special to have the ability and the opportunity (to play at the college level). It’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates also thinks it is special for Stephens to be reunited with her sister on the volleyball court. Jacey Stephens plays on the right side for the Lady Parsons.
“They’re close. It’s not a sibling rivalry at all,” Bates said. “They’ve really worked on this sport hard together. They support each other. They’re best friends. I think it’s going to be pretty cool to go and watch them both play at the same place. I know Jacey is excited to have her come to play with her.”
Bates said Stephens has never complained about the dirty work associated with the libero position.
“She knew that’s what was best for this team,” Bates said. “That libero spot is tough to play. You’re the one hitting the floor the most. You don’t always get the recognition or the awards, but she has done everything we’ve asked her to.
“She’s good as gold. I’m proud she’s getting recognized for her ability and her hard work. She’s one of those you’re proud of all the time. She’s such a good kid. She’s a good example for these kids. She also works hard in the classroom. She’s a good standard for what we want our athletes to be. You like to see those kinds of kids get rewarded.”
Although she’s excited to be reunited with her sister, Stephens said it’s bittersweet for her to know her high school volleyball career has ended.
“It’s sad, but I know I get to play again,” she said. “I know some players don’t get to play volleyball again. I think it’s special to have the ability and the opportunity to continue. It’s something to look forward to.
“I really like Coach Cristie Brothers. I know some of the girls there already. Some of my friends who are going there I played travel ball with. I just love the environment.”
“She’s going to be hard to replace,” Bates said. “Just her spirit and love for the game is going to be missed.”