They didn’t sweat and toil together since they were freshmen, and they only played one season for their current coach.
Still, there was a tight-knit bond and a sense of pride when Blue Springs South’s three volleyball standouts sat side-by-side and put pen to paper Wednesday.
Seniors Rylie Gregston, Hannah LaPour and Morgan Gish signed their national letters of intent along with 10 other Jaguars in a ceremony at the school. Gregston is headed to Oklahoma, LaPour to Northwest Missouri State and Gish to Tennessee Tech.
And on hand to watch was Mallori Perry, who had just completed her first season as the Jaguars’ coach but felt as if she’d known these girls forever.
“It’s so neat that even though I only got to coach them for a year, they hold a special place in my heart,” Perry said. “They’re very deserving of where they’re ending up.”
Gregston, a 5-foot-6 setter, LaPour, a 5-10 middle hitter, and Gish, a 5-11 right side hitter, ended up leading Blue Springs South to a 29-7 record, the Suburban Bix Six championship and the Class 4 state quarterfinals this season. Gregston and LaPour had been part of the program for a while but Gish was a newcomer, transferring to South after playing on three Class 3 state tournament teams at Pleasant Hill.
Gish, though, said she felt welcome at South from the beginning. It helped having familiar faces like Gregston, who had played club volleyball with Gish.
“She’d always been a great asset to her team,” Gregston said. “So when I found out she was transferring to Blue Springs South I was super excited. She jelled really well with our team this year.”
Like Gregston, Gish will be playing Division-I volleyball. A member of the Ohio Valley Conference, Tennessee Tech is not far from Nashville, where Gish’s older sister Logan plays volleyball for Lipscomb University.
“It pretty much felt like home to me when I stepped on the campus,” Gish said. “My sister plays volleyball an hour away and everything just felt perfect.”
Oklahoma also felt perfect for Gregston, who said she committed a month after her first visit. Division-I volleyball had always been her goal, but she feared her lack of size might have been an obstacle.
“There was some doubt in my mind,” Gregston said. “But my coaches believed in me and pushed me to be better.”
In just one season, Perry saw enough in Gregston to believe she’ll make it in the Big 12.
“She was kind of the spark plug for our team,” Perry said. “She’s a role model to our underclassmen and a leader to her peers. That right there is going to carry her through at competing at that top level.”
LaPour, the 2017 Examiner Player of the Year, said the coaches were the deciding factor in signing with Northwest Missouri State. She also wanted an opportunity to play close to home.
“I want to be close to my family,” LaPour said. “I want to be able to come home and watch my brother’s and sister’s games.”
And she also hopes she can keep track of the former Jaguar teammates that have grown so close together.
“We love each off the court just as much as we do on,” LaPour said. “It’s fun to be able to experience all of this with them. It makes it just all that more special.”
Three members of South’s Class 4 state-champion softball team also signed Wednesday, two of them with Division-I teams. Abby Sciara signed with UMKC, while Easton Seib selected Valparaiso University. Makensy Burghart is going to Graceland.
The Jaguars also had four baseball players sign: John Herrman with Lindenwood, Levi Legate with Northwest Missouri, Cale Sackewitz with Cowley County (Kan.) Community College and Brady Strickert with State Fair Community College.
Also signing were Gabby Fournier to swim at William Jewell and twins Katie and Madi Poertner to play soccer at Central Missouri.