PREP VOLLEYBALL: ‘We are more than a team; we are a family’: Arab’s Bennett Elrod recaps junior season

Arab’s Bennett Elrod. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

ARAB, Ala. — This volleyball season was a special one for the Arab Lady Knights as they rolled past everyone to get to the Class 5A state finals, but they ended up falling just short in the title game to finish the season state runners up. Junior Bennett Elrod feels so blessed to have played a part in what was an amazing season for Arab.

“This season was very special to me, because I got to play and make memories with my best friends. We are a good team, but our bond and love for each other is what takes us the extra mile. Family is a big word that we use a lot, and we truly formed one of the best families this season,” Elrod said. “I personally wanted nothing more this season than to give our seniors a special year, and even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I am so thankful for the memories and friendships that grew stronger over the season. Being a part of this team really is a blessing.”

Bennett got to play with some amazing players this past season and learned a lot from them and from this year. She talked about what it was like to play with some great seniors.

“Playing with the talented players that we had pushed me to be the best I could be. I think one of the lessons I took away from this season was to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. As a team, if someone got down, we all tried to rally around them, and bring them back up. Throughout the season, we all learned that what you do off the court is just as important as what you do on the court. Encouragement played a major role in the building of our team chemistry,” Elrod said. “As leaders, they were inspiring and supportive, guiding the team with their experience and knowledge. They set a great example for everyone and created a positive and motivating environment. They taught me the importance of leadership and keeping a positive environment for the team to be in.”

Bennett feels blessed to play for head coach Amy Hudson and has taken away so much from her so far.

“It’s been a great experience playing for coach Hudson. She pushes us hard to be our best, but at the same time, she is our biggest supporter. She’s always reminding us that she is there for us no matter what, and I think that makes our relationship with her extra special. She has taught me lots of things, but most importantly, she’s taught me the importance of being a leader and what kind of impact that can have on someone. She’s helped me learn that communication is always necessary, especially when going through adversity. She has taught me to be there for my team and to let them be there for me too, because we are more than a team; we are a family.”

Bennett has seen her overall game grow a lot over the past three years and talked about what she learned the most about the team and from this past season.

“Personally, I think I have grown my game by working hard and being dedicated to my team. Over the last three years, I have become more confident in myself, and I think that has played a big role in my improvement,” she said. “I learned that trust, communication, and the happiest of teammates are key factors in how we perform. I truly believe that this team would do anything for each other on and off the court.”

She will continue to work on her game through the offseason but will work on a couple of other things as well. She talked about her goals and the team goals for 2024.

“Going into next season, I am looking to improve every aspect of my game, but most importantly, I want to step up as a leader and help push the team to our highest potential,” she said. “My personal goals are to get better at some parts of my game every day and to hold my teammates accountable. We have set the bar high for ourselves the last two years, so I would say our team goals are nothing less than making it back to the state finals and walking away with a different outcome.”

The Lady Knights volleyball team was really special to watch this past season, and Bennett is looking forward to having another special season in 2024. She talked about her role models in volleyball, and how important it is to be a role model for the younger girls that are watching her and the rest of her teammates.

“I feel like our energy and encouragement to each other during the highs and lows of games made us entertaining and special to watch,” she said. “I think it will be special to see the talented new players step up and face the challenges, as they assume their roles on the team. I have always looked up to my coaches and the older, more experienced players I have played with as my role models.”

She added,

“It means so much to me to be a role model for the younger girls. I want them to see us be successful, but more importantly, I want them to be able to tell how much fun we are having and how much we love each other. I have made some of my best friends through volleyball, and I want them to see that volleyball is more than just a game.”

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