Athlete of Week: Markley coming up big for CAMB

cambvol-7Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach volleyball player Julia Markley has seen the looks on her opponents’ faces on the other side of the net. They might start the match with a smirk after seeing the 5-foot-2 junior take the floor for the first time, but they usually finish with their mouths agape after watching the Lady Saints’ smallest player on the court put on a clinic.

Don’t be fooled by the diminutive but dominating standout, who was named the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for her play in leading the Lady Saints to an 11-2 overall record and an undefeated region slate. Markley leads Christian Academy in kills with 75, relying on fundamentals and smarts over size and sheer power to put the Lady Saints in the hunt for a state title.

“I guess a lot of people think ‘Who is this little girl coming out to play (on the front line),'” Markley said. “I’m not as tall as most of the other players up front, but I’ve been playing volleyball for a long time and I’ve learned to overcome it. I just try to focus on where to place the ball (instead of trying to spike it), and it has worked out pretty well for me.”

Markley is a bit modest about her role, especially when it comes to leadership. She brings the same energy that she displays on the court to the team huddle, helping build cohesiveness to a team that underwent an offseason coaching change. First-year head coach Randy Haldi says Markley sets a strong example for her teammates, which makes his job that much easier.

“If you haven’t seen Julia play, it’s definitely eye-opening to see the smallest player on the court go out and dominate as a hitter against much bigger girls that are just positive they can shut her down,” he said. “Julia really represents the heart and soul of who we are as a team – a small team from a small school, but really talented and never intimidated, no matter how big the school or the girls we play against. We have definitely been blessed to have Julia as one of the leaders on our team.”

Markley indeed symbolizes the David vs. Goliath mentality when the SCISA Class 2A team lines up against local rivals from SCISA 4A and 5A classifications. The Lady Saints rallied to beat St. James in five sets in a rematch from one of their two losses on the season. Markley credits her teammates’ close relationship for helping them overcome larger obstacles.

“It was a big adjustment for us at first but we really like him a lot and learn a lot from him,” she said of the coaching change. “I think a lot of it had to do with our team being so close. We’ve all played together for a long time and we know each other on and off the court. It actually boosts our confidence when we can go out and compete against the bigger schools.”

That attitude should carry the Lady Saints far as they go for a region and state championship in the coming weeks. The delay caused by Hurricane Matthew has the team eager to return to action and see just how far they can go. A big factor will be just how big the smallest player on the floor can deliver as Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach heads to the home stretch.

“I feel like we can pick right back up where we left off because our team is very athletic and very competitive,” she said. “We have gotten a lot better and tighter by playing against good teams, and that should help us in the region and in the playoffs. We can always get better, but we are playing really good right now and I think we can go back to state and win it.”

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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