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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Bellmont senior Grace Hunter is back with the Braves' volleyball team after sitting out as a junior.

Friday, September 07, 2018 1:00 am

Returning for final sets

With basketball scholarship set, Bellmont senior back on volleyball court

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

On Aug. 14, in the first volleyball match of the season, Bellmont senior Grace Hunter was back on the floor with her teammates. Helping her team to a five-set win over Dwenger, Hunter said she couldn't have dreamed for a better match to open up the season after being away from the game for over a year.

“A lot of emotions coming in, and I could tell people were just hyped up, but nervous at the same time,” Hunter said. “The game kind of went how the emotions were. Five sets, you can't get any better than that. That was fun to come back and start with that game and get that win.”

With seven kills and three aces, Hunter felt right at home again on the volleyball court.

“Just watching her get herself acclimated, get herself back involved in every single chance she could, that's just a testament to her desire,” Bellmont head volleyball coach Craig Krull said. “She's always going to bring me that every single match.”

Basketball is her life, but playing volleyball is also a passion of hers. After playing volleyball and basketball her freshman and sophomore years, Hunter dropped volleyball her junior year to focus on her basketball recruitment. After committing to Northern Illinois to play basketball in June, Hunter wanted one last season to pursue that passion of volleyball.

“It's hard at first because you're a little rusty and everything, but coming back was fun because my teammates were welcoming, and that helped a lot,” Hunter said.

Krull said he asked Hunter this summer, and even last season, if she missed volleyball, and she always said yes. So when he texted her after she committed, he knew volleyball might again be in her future.

“To me, I just thought trying to sell her on playing volleyball would probably be easier if she got the scholarship, so now there's less pressure on her,” Krull said.

During her visit to Northern Illinois, one of the Huskies' basketball players said she regretted not playing high school volleyball her senior year. That's what pushed Hunter to play again.

“I was kind of like, I'm going to regret this later, and I know it's going to be a time commitment, but I'm going to go for it,” she said.

Before school and practice, Hunter can be found getting shots up in the gym.

Krull knows just because it was volleyball season, basketball didn't stop. His 12-year-old son, Gavin, now rebounds for her and she does the same for him.

“She will talk to him and be like, 'hey let's go shoot,' ” Krull said. “You can put her to a total stranger, and she'll befriend them.”

Hunter said it's tough to juggle all of her commitments, but it's worth it.

“The relationships and just the hype,” said Hunter as to what she missed most about volleyball. “I love being with my teammates, at practices and at school, but also pregame and getting ready. Every time you're going to a game you make memories.”

However, she didn't miss the floor burns.

With eight returnees on the Braves this season, Krull is happy with how the season has gone. Hunter, a middle hitter, is a huge part of that.

“She's such an athlete, that her first time back in the gym you would've sworn she never took any time off,” Krull said. “She really hasn't lost a step.”

ewyman@jg.net