After a very successful regular season, the Big Sandy volleyball team is now headed into the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the 6C East. The Pioneers are stacked with talent this season, and could very well make a run at a district title, divisional title, and maybe even Class C state title.
And a lot of the Pioneers' success can be credited to athletes like Shanya Gilead, a junior for Big Sandy.
Gilead impacted the varsity team last season as a sophomore, and now this season as a junior. She is somewhat of a utility player for the Pioneers, but sees a lot of time as a setter and outside hitter. Last season Gilead was even named most improved and most inspirational by fellow teammates.
Basketball is another passion for Gilead. She has played since her freshman year, and has also been a key contributor for the varsity squad. But this weekend her focus is on volleyball, as her and the rest of the Pioneers have earned the No. 1 seed and a first round bye in the 6C district tournament.
Here's five questions with Big Sandy's do-it-all player as the 6C East tourney gets underway today in Chinook.
HDN: What is the toughest thing about playing in a tournament like the 6C East district tournament?
Gilead: “The toughest thing would have to be that we can never expect to know what we are going to see from the other teams. They could have a great game, followed by a bad game, or they could be on or off with their hitters, so we just have to ready for everything we could see.”
HDN: Is there anything specific that first got you interested in volleyball?
Gilead: “I would say it was how people were hitting the ball. It was fast moving and with power. Everybody was also positive, and the team was always so positive, and that really got to me.”
HDN: What kind of rivalry do you and North Star have, especially this season after being the top two teams in the district?
Gilead: “I think the rivalry is huge, especially because North Star and us haven’t seen a whole lot of divisional and state tournaments. We both want it so bad, and we see each other all the time in every sport. We always go back and forth, and normally North Star is better in volleyball and we are better in basketball, but this year we are right there with them (in volleyball), and we really want to get them.”
HDN: What has been the teams’ biggest strength this season, and how has that helped Big Sandy to become the No. 1 seed in the district?
Gilead: “Our biggest strength this season is that we are all athletic. And we all want to win and are very competitive, so we all have our minds set on one thing, and that is to go to win districts, go to divisionals, and just see what happens from there. It just helps that we are all in it together and we want the same things.”
HDN: If you had to choose between basketball and volleyball, which one would you choose?
Gilead: “I would have to choose basketball, I guess because there is more physical activity and the way you get to interact with the team. But I have grown up playing my whole life, and seeing so many relatives play as well, I just fell in love with basketball growing up as a little kid.”