By Angel Verdejo

Killeen Daily Herald

It started like many sports debates.

People sitting around, wondering out loud.

In this case, the people were us, the Daily Herald sports writers.

And the topic? Just who hits the hardest among all the area volleyball standouts?

We, like many fans, have seen Belton's Grace Weaver, an outside hitter headed to Tulane next year. And Lampasas middle blocker Madison Morris, who is committed to UT-El Paso.

Or even Gatesville's Glynna Johnson, the area leader in kills.

We've seen outside hitters send defenders

scrambling, trying to keep alive a dig that's 40 feet in the air and flying toward the stands. Or middle blockers punish anyone standing between their kill and the floor, whether it means a shot to an arm or face.

But, few know how fast those kills are. Unlike pitchers, volleyball players don't have their kills flying past radar guns.

Until now.

Thanks to a pair of radar guns loaned to the Daily Herald by Harker Heights baseball coach Glenn Cunningham, the staff went out and gave every varsity player the chance to put a speed on her kills.

"Oh my gosh, you should have seen their eyes light up - they were so excited," Lampasas head coach Beth Rutland said of her players' reaction.

The rules were generally quite simple. Every participant had three tries, with extra sets allowed due to bad passes, for example, or if a reading didn't register on the gun.

Hitters could swing from anywhere they chose as long as the kills landed in bounds. Each school used the same setter, with a second only subbing in to pass to the original setter.

The top times - we chose seven - advanced to next week's finals.

Now, we know this may or may not determine who truly has the hardest shot. There are different variables to consider. Swinging in a packed gym with a blocker in front of you is different than doing so before practice. Adrenaline kicks in, and with the added level of intensity can come harder, faster kills.

We simply told the girls to "swing away."

Unfortunately for the research group - the sports staff - swinging away sometimes meant aiming for the guy standing 10 feet away with the radar gun. We all walked away, but not without taking a few volleyballs to the shoulders, legs, stomach and even face.

As I told the Lampasas hitters after narrowly dodging a would-be shot to the head, "If I can move out of the way, then I'm okay."

The top time wasn't much of a surprise. It was Weaver, who had two attempts register at 47 mph and another at 46. She'll lead the finals' contingent, though not by much.

Just one tick on the gun.

Morris and Ellison's Tia Scott are right behind at 46 mph. Scott's teammate, senior outside hitter Stephanie Wasson, hit 45 mph.

Salado middle blocker Jenna Sebek and Carling Urben both reached 44 mph Monday. Shoemaker sophomore Hailee Showers then turned the final six into seven participants Wednesday, as her first kill went 44 mph.

In all, 26 players reached at least 40 mph.

And, of course, the hitters had a good time competing. Salado, which was tested Monday, borrowed a radar gun and did it again Tuesday. Even a few coaches took swings - Florence's Joanna Hensley, who played at Vernon College just four years ago, hit 42 mph.

"This tells them a lot," said Rutland, who reached 37 mph. "I have to buy me a radar gun now."

The Competition: The results


Grace Weaver, 47

Brooke Kiella, 43

Stephanie Styker, 36

Copperas Cove

Andrea Hurt, 43

Phyllicia Cross, 43

Amy Rosenbaum, 42

Quiana Canete, 42

Alex Chace, 39

Carlie Tuiasosopo, 35

Arielle Garcia, 31

Harker Heights

Brianna Freeman, 43

Bianca Patterson, 41

Starnisha Bodie, 36

Anjane Janada, 36


Jessica Harrell, 42

Lauren Michalka, 39

Kasey Button, 38

Madison Odom, 37

Sydney Briggs, 37

Haley Pluenneke, 37

Lauren Clark, 36

Kaylee Parkhurst, 33

Leslie Key, 32

Samantha Miller, 31


Janey Phillips, 43

Lauren Nichols, 43

Shelby Strange, 41

Glynna Johnson 39

Daija Ward, 39

Skye Truss, 38

Kaitlin Poe, 35

Ashley Cook, 34


Tia Scott, 46

Stephanie Wasson, 45

Alayshia Hunter, 42

Megan McKinnon, 41

Chelsea Grant, 36

Ocleta Young, 36


Madison Morris, 46

Hailey Morrison, 43

Ashley Moore, 40

Kendal Conner, 38

Tatyana Carnes, 37

Darien Williams, 37

Kasandra Hirst, 37

Catherine Bloomfield, 37

Whitney Cauthen, 35

Tealey Farquhar, 33

Mariah Jones, 33

Laura Leavell, 31


DeQuise Robinson, 43

Carle Foster, 40

Crystal Ellis, 39

Afton Hunter, 36

Takeisha Howard, 35

Mariah Shaw, 35

Brea McIver, 34

Esha Atkins, 34

Brianna Lott, 33


Jenna Sebek, 44

Carling Urben, 44

Hadley Joiner, 43

Brennan Boydstun, 39

Lorna Payne, 36

Kaitlin Matson, 35

Camryn Bintz, 32

Sarah Toller, 31


Hailee Showers, 44

Ebonie Davis, 41

Ingrid Toro, 39

Zana West, 38

Kiara Rawls, 36

Tye'mekia Jones, 36

Lekesha Jelks, 34

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