ERIE – This fall, the Erie volleyball team accomplished something historic and special.
The Tigers reached the state tournament for the first time since 1994. Once there, they won their first match to claim the Erie volleyball program’s first-ever victory at state. Even the Tigers themselves weren’t expecting to put together such a groundbreaking run, but everything came together at the right time and the Tigers set a new precedent for their school.
Right at the heart of the Tigers’ exceptional season was senior setter Jessica Amend. For driving the Tigers toward history in 2019, Amend has been named the 2019 BoCoPreps.com player of the year.
“After it had some time to sink in, it hit me how much of a different season we had than what we were expecting,” Amend said. “We had a new team and a lot of us hadn’t played together, and it was amazing to think that we are the first Erie volleyball team to win at state. We worked hard to develop our chemistry in the preseason and the fact that we did it as a team is really special.
“We’re proud of our season and that we were hopefully the team that started a new trend for Erie volleyball.”
Amend, who is committed to play at Colorado State-Pueblo next year, made a point to spend her senior season doing whatever her Tigers (19-9) needed from her.
The Tigers’ senior was sixth in the entire state with 1,007 assists. Amend also finished with 197 digs and 73 kills. She led the team with a .347 hitting percentage, and her 43.7 kill percentage and 17.5 ace percentage were both second-best on the Tigers’ roster.
“I feel like I improved a lot as a player and a leader,” Amend said. “Something I worked on during the offseason was creating a faster-paced offense and it was exciting to see myself up there in the stats and with the other really good players in the state.”
Whether or not the Tigers were able to start the program trending upwards remains to be seen. Whatever happens in the coming years, notching their team’s first win on the biggest stage will be more than enough for this fall’s group to look back on fondly in the future.
Tigers head coach Molly Creek, for one, wishes she could have Amend back for one more year to ensure things stay on track.
“First off, I’m really proud of her,” Creek said. “My first year at Erie was also her first year so it’s been really cool to see the growth and to watch her develop as an athlete and as a person. She has always set the bar super high in terms of what competitiveness and attention detail means. Her presence as a leader has really been a pillar in our culture and our success as a program over the past four years.
“She will be missed next year.”