Athlete of the Week: Davis gives MB added dimension

mbvol-14spikeForget about 3D. The best way to describe this week’s multi-dimensional Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week Gracie Davis is 4D – as in dedication, driven, determination and developing her game.

Her dedication to her teammates – both Myrtle Beach High and the Grand Strand Juniors pushed her teams to multiple wins and titles over the last few seasons. As an eight-grader in 2014, Davis was one of the spark plugs for a 12-9-3 record for Myrtle Beach as she earned her first spot on the all-region team.

Davis, the reigning Region Player of the Year, helped lead the Lady Seahawks to a 19-2 record in 2015 and a deep run into the playoffs a season ago. Now in her fourth season as a starter on the varsity squad, the 5-foot-11 sophomore is averaging 14 kills and three aces per match to lead the Lady Seahawks a 14-1-1 mark and a 2-0-0 start to region play.

Davis’s youthful experience level plays a vital role because she has a high level of confidence no matter who Myrtle Beach plays. Not only does that experience come from high school and travel ball, but some also from being the younger sister of Katie Davis, who played at UNC Asheville before transferring to play beach volleyball at Coastal Carolina.

“I started playing volleyball mostly because of my sister (Katie),” Davis said. “I looked up to her as a role model. She motivated me to want to become a Division I volleyball player just like her.”

Myrtle Beach volleyball coach Larry Church said the younger Davis year’s of playing the game has been invaluable to her talent. “She’s been playing the game at a high level for so long and she is still very young,” he said. “Each year that she has played travel ball, she has played up an age level. She has experience that makes her a special player – not only in this area, but in the state.”

Despite her experience and dedication, Davis’ drive may be her biggest asset. Playing alongside her high school and travel volleyball teammates helps her take her game to the next level.

“The thing that motivates me the most is my teammates. Every time I step on the floor I try to perform at my highest level so I don’t let any of my teammates down,” Davis said. “I always try to keep my offensive game at a steady level even if we are playing a lower level team, but of course I have more of a drive when we are playing a team that is more competitive and can challenge our skills set more.”

Church said that Davis has relished the captain role she took over this season, and her game has helped drive the team to success. “She is an intense competitor even though her demeanor on the court is pretty calm. She can take over a match with her ability to attack the ball,” he said. “You can see her fire on the court. The way she attacks the ball changes. When she gets motivated, it makes it so much harder for the opposition to play defense against her.”

It does not take much to get Davis mentally and physically prepared for the competition, but she said playing against North Myrtle Beach stokes the fire in her game. The two undefeated teams meet next week with first place in Region 6-5A on the line.

“I feel like I always step up my game when we are playing against North Myrtle Beach because we have such a big rivalry,” Davis said. “Everyone is expecting a hard-fought game when we face each other.”

One of the key components that has brought Davis both individual and team success is her determination. Rather than rest on her accomplishments, Davis is the first to point out areas where she can get better. “A part of my game that I think I am most advanced at is offense, and the part that I need to improve most would definitely be serving and blocking,” Davis said.

That has led to her to her all-region and all-state awards, and being named Most Valuable Player at a big tournament earlier this season at Ashley Ridge.

“My most memorable award as a individual would be receiving the all-state award in my eighth grade year,” Davis said. “My most memorable team award would be the tournament we just recently won at Ashley Ridge.”

Given Davis’ multi-faceted talents, look for even bigger and better things to come her way in the future.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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