LEAGUE CITY

The Clear Creek Wildcats’ comeback kid — and the Galveston County volleyball player of the year — Allie Garland returned from being sidelined last season to being stronger than ever and put together a standout 2018 season.

The 6-foot-2 middle blocker used her top-level quickness in her lateral movements and leaping ability to put up big numbers this season despite usually being the focal point of opposing defenses, which often double teamed her.

“A lot of coaches told me when they were recruiting me that I could fly left and right so fast and that’s what attracted them — especially for a tall middle blocker, they said they don’t see that a lot,” Garland said.

For her senior campaign this season, Garland was able to rack up some excellent numbers with 573 kills, a .385 hitting percentage, 186 blocks and 62 aces, and she earned multiple honors — including an AVCA All-American honorable mention and District 24-6A most valuable player.

On the road to compiling these statistics, Garland said she would often single out targets in the opposition and just attack.

“That’s what I aim for every single game, and normally I can reach those goals, and on some of the games were I couldn’t, I would still try to work my way to it,” Garland said.

The all-district MVP accolade — usually reserved for the best player on the district championship team — was awarded to Garland despite a third-place finish in district by Clear Creek.

“It wasn’t that we had a horrible year or anything, but there were obviously teams that did better and went further than we did, and if you’re an individual player getting recognized as the MVP on a team that didn’t go really far in the playoffs or whatever, that must mean you had a really good year, and she did,” Clear Creek head coach Scott Simonds said.

And all of this comes after Garland missed her junior season due to a serious shoulder injury.

“It was very hard,” Garland said. “There were so many times that I cried to Simonds or cried to my parents. I just wanted to play. I didn’t care if I was playing front row, back row. I just wanted to be on the court.”

“She tried to tell me should could play with one arm a few times,” Simonds added.

On top of her physical abilities, Garland displayed a highly competitive spirit and leadership style for the Wildcats, Simonds said.

“I think Allie was a great leader for us — she’s very emotional and very vocal,” Simonds said. “It meant the world to her. When we beat Clear Falls, that bus ride home, she was going absolutely berserk.”

While, like many others, Simonds was highly impressed with Garland’s performance on the court, it was an action Garland took away from the court, detailed to him in an email from the mother of a Clear Creek Intermediate School volleyball player, that he feels reveals the character that made Garland such a tremendous leader for the Wildcats this season.

Following Clear Creek’s junior high appreciation night match, the Clear Creek Intermediate player reached out to her volleyball idol Garland on social media asking if Garland could attend one of their matches. The mother warned her daughter that Garland was probably very busy and might not make it. Not only did Garland watch the match, but she also spoke with the team and gave them words of encouragement.

“I didn’t tell Allie to go do that, that wasn’t something that I mandated she had to do,” Simonds said. “I didn’t even know that it had happened until afterwards. … That’s just a really cool story to me, setting an example for the younger players.”

A four-year varsity player, Garland said her favorite memory of her tenure with the Wildcats was in her sophomore season with the team’s trip to state championship held in, interestingly enough, Garland, Texas.

Moving forward, Garland has already signed her national letter of intent to play Division I college volleyball at UConn.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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