Underdogs. That’s the word that comes to mind when you hear ‘Ames High Volleyball’. The team has been working harder than ever this year to prove themselves. They’ve gone from being unranked in the preseason to beating the favorite preseason team this year, Waukee. The team is working their butts off in order to reach their goals of conference champions and the reaching the state tournament this year. The Web sat down with Varsity seniors Maddy Kolb, Drew Smith, Bailey Banach, and Liza Mann to shed light on one of Ames High’s most successful and most underrated teams. WEB: How strong do you believe the team is this year? Mann: “Well, we were unranked initially, but we knew the skill level of all the athletes going into it and we were excited. We watched everyone’s athleticism grow so that led to all of our players being flexible enough that we could change up the line-up and that has given us more options.” Kolb: “I think we’re stronger than last year surprisingly, even though we lost some good players.” Mann: “And our record is better too.” WEB: As seniors did you all feel expected to step up and lead the team? Smith: “Our coach definitely likes it when we step up and show leadership but- ” Mann: “-But we’re all really laid back. I wouldn’t really say any of us are THE leader that we’re following. It’s really a team effort.” WEB: What are your goals for the season? Smith: “We all want to be conference champs and go to state really badly.” Kolb: “We wanted to and we did beat Waukee, the preseason favorite, and then we beat Marshalltown, who were last years champs, so we’re making progress. Mann. “We were SO close to state last year so that just makes us want to go that much more. But from our wins against Waukee and Marshalltown, we’re on our way to getting there.” WEB: How did you all feel after defeating Waukee and Marshalltown? Mann: “It was AWESOME. Nobody had even looked at Ames and here we are making a name for ourselves.” WEB: So do you all feel as though you’re underrated? Kolb: “At the beginning of the season I feel like no one really looked at us as a challenge, but now after beating Marshalltown and Waukee the rest of our conference is now thinking, ‘we better watch out for Ames.’ We’re competitive and we can actually play.” WEB: The team is starting to build a decent fan base. Does having the fans here at home affect the way you play? Banach: “Yes. I love when people come to watch and cheer because it makes me want to play with even more energy to show everyone just how competitive we are.” Mann: “During homecoming week when we had the whiteout and beat Marshalltown it felt SO good to have the fans there supporting us.” Smith: “It was awesome! Just having the crowd there helps so much. At away games we have to get our own energy up.” Mann: “Noise is good -volleyball is made for noise. [The fans as well as players] are supposed to be as loud as they can be.” Smith: “And it helps if we have the fans cheering because it makes us even louder. We loved having all the fans at the whiteout! Hearing the student section . . . after words we all just felt amazing.“ Kolb: “Well and with Bailee Jackson on the ground going for the ball half of the time it makes it that much more intense.” Mann: “Every mistake is a point and the game can change so quickly –it’s very intense to watch.” WEB: What happens when two people call “MINE” at the same time? Mann: “Occasionally, the ball drops between two people and that’s really bad. We get in SO much trouble if it drops.” Smith: “-or both people go for it and that’s usually not a very good pass . . . but at least you both went for it. Collision is better than letting the ball drop.” WEB: Volleyball is definitely a team sport so what specifically does your team do to strengthen your relationship? Mann: “We do a lot of team building and team dinners-“ Kolb: “-this year especially. I just feel like we’re all really close. “ Smith: “It really just feels like a family. Honestly, it does.” Mann: “I feel like volleyball is one of the most time consuming sports and I think a lot of people don’t really understand that. On Saturdays we are together at all day tournaments pretty much every single week. We spend so much time together; like ridiculous amounts of time together. I spend more time with my teammates than I do with my family. Also, with six people all on one side of a small court trying to decide where everyone is going, you pretty much have to know everyone’s personalities to know how’ll they’ll react.” WEB: What will you miss most about Ames High Volleyball? Mann: “Every year it gets harder; the last game when you lose and you know you’re done, that’s it the seasons over… It’s tough because you get to know the seniors so well, and now that we are the seniors, it’s just going to be so hard to say goodbye. “ Drew: “Uh I just got a weird feeling in my stomach thinking about it.” Mann: “Last year was horrible because we all knew those seniors really well. It’s just going to be sad.” Drew: “But this year we’re going to state so it won’t be as bad.” WEB: Any final thoughts? Mann: “Volleyball is the best sport -ever. I mean you don’t get to cheer hard for golf. In football the players are so far away it’s hard to feel like part of the action . . . but volleyball it’s in your face you feel like you’re a part of the match. We just need more people to come to the games and support us.” Banach: “I play volleyball because it is honestly the most fun sport I’ve ever played. I don’t think most people realize how outrageous and exciting the game really is. I once hit a girl in the face once with one of my spikes. How much more entertaining can it get?”