SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County volleyball player Sara Bevill has an aggressive nature. Her opponents know that there won't be a ton of balls that get past her.
Region 2-AAAAAA coaches realize it, too. That’s why they named her the region’s Defensive Player of the Year.
"I was very surprised because our region is such a strong region and there are so many great defensive players," Bevill said. "It was very shocking to me and I was excited."
It wasn’t a surprise to Lady Rebels head coach Brittany Lein, who recognized Bevill’s fiery spirit and fostered the growth in that part of her game.
"Sara waited patiently for her opportunity this year on varsity," Lein said. "She’s worked so hard the last two years earning her the position as libero and team captain. She isn’t just a passer. She's all over the court touching and going after any ball she can.
“She has such a commitment on the court to her teammates and to the game. No matter how hard things get, how many points we may be losing by, she never gives up on the ball, on the game or on her team."
Although she's played just two full varsity seasons, Bevill has had a decorated career. She was selected to compete in the 2019 GACA North-South Junior All-Star game in Macon, which took place Nov. 16. She was also name first-team All-Region 2-AAAAAA this year and was on the second team as a sophomore last season.
Since she started playing volleyball in the fifth grade, Bevill has consistently played stellar defense. She refuses to use her diminutive stature as an excuse against taller foes. Her hustle on the court and in the classroom has made her a priceless asset to her team. She has been an exemplary model for the underclassmen.
"I've always played (defense) since I'm short," Bevill said. "It's so fun being around the girls. Anytime something is going on in your life, volleyball is the time to focus and have fun. Being a junior and because everyone is so much younger than me, I had to step up as a leader on and off the court."
Although accolades are pouring in — she was recently announced as the Lady Rebels’ MVP during their annual awards banquet — the libero hasn’t lost sight of what this season taught her.
"I definitely think being such a young team, (this season) taught me it's not always about winning," she said. "Its about the growth. At the beginning of the season, we were still getting to know each other. But compared to our last game as a whole, we played so much better and we clicked together. It feels wonderful (to win MVP). My coach has believed in me since my ninth-grade year. She has shown me I am good enough to be where I am and without her I wouldn't be where I am today."
"She’s a leader on and off the court, befriending the underclassmen, always looking for opportunities to better her teammates and stepping up and encouraging her team to be the best they can be," Lein said. "Sara is not only fun to watch play, she’s a wonderful athlete to coach. I’m super blessed I still have another year with her!
“I can’t wait to see her grow over the next year as she pursues her dream of playing college volleyball. Any team would be lucky to have such a fantastic volleyball player."