This week’s guest has flown under the radar to put together a productive senior season while being the captain of a Boyd volleyball team that will be ending its two-year playoff drought on Tuesday.
Please relax and enjoy the McKinney Courier-Gazette’s sports editor Kendrick E.Johnson's Sunday Spotlight Conversation with Boyd volleyball senior captain Abigail Quigley.
How good does it feel to sweep McKinney this season after having two intense battles with them last year?
Quigley: If felt amazing. Since I came into the program, it was understood that no matter the circumstances, you always play all out at the “Crosstown Showdown.” Ending last year on a high note against them was great, but we knew we had to work hard to get the results we wanted this year.
Also, having Jordan Kiley, a Boyd volleyball legend and my big sis from freshman year, come in to pump us up before the first game against them this year was so cool and such a full-circle moment. After the game, I got to hang out with four of the girls (on the McKinney varsity team) that I played with at Evans and reflect on how far we’ve all come.
Ending on a sweet note is everything I could’ve hoped for.
How has the camaraderie and closeness of the Lady Broncos helped the team be successful?
Quigley: Knowing that everyone in the program truly wants the best for you and will do anything they can to help you reach your potential is the most empowering thing. We’ve been together every single day since the last week of July, and all the time we’ve spent together during 6 a.m. practices, tournaments, our lake house weekend, ice baths and 800-yard shuttles has helped us build a love for each other that is the backbone to our success.
Who is your best friend on the team and how fun has it been to play together and help Boyd win a lot of games this season?
Quigley: I can’t say I have one best friend on the team because I consider all of my teammates my best friends, but being able to play and grow with my fellow setters, Morgan (Milstead) and Claire (Russell), has been so amazing. I genuinely look forward to warming up setting with them at the beginning of every practice because they make me laugh and never judge me when I double.
Being a setter is not easy, but the job is so much easier when you have someone to remind you were to be on defense, what play sets are working, or are simply excited for you no matter what you do. I love them so much.
How big of a deal was it for this year’s team to get Boyd into the playoffs after a two-year hiatus from postseason play?
Quigley: It is a huge deal for us. Our memories of the varsity team going to the playoffs include people like Jordan Kiley, Montana Watts, Paige Anderson and other legends of McKinney Boyd volleyball winning huge games and kissing the bronco. It’s so crazy to think that we are where they were a few years ago and that we have the privilege of continuing the tradition of making our school proud in the postseason.
We’re not the biggest team, but we have grit and hard work, which makes me even more proud that we’ve been able to come this far and have a chance at going the distance.
Can you give some insight into the emotions when your team clinched their spot in the playoffs by beating Allen?
Quigley: I definitely felt relief and pride. I wanted to win this game so bad for our coach (J.J.) Castillo. She works countless hours watching film, scouting, planning practices and so much more because she truly believed we could make it to playoffs.
Even in the moments we aren’t sure of ourselves, she pushes us harder so we can prove to ourselves we can do anything. I also felt excitement because I get to play with my favorite people longer than just district play.
What do you and your teammates have to do in the playoffs to make a long, positive run?
Quigley: We’re focusing a lot on the little things. We’ve come this far by focusing on one game at a time, and I believe that continuing our success relies on sticking with that mindset — one day at a time, one practice at a time, one round at a time.
Also, something we must do is continue to play for each other. As time goes on and classes get more intense, we all get tired, but the idea of playing for something bigger than yourself lights a fire under us and will lead to us going far.
What are you going to miss most about wearing a Lady Broncos jersey and being a part of the Boyd volleyball program?
Quigley: I will miss all the crazy conversations that happen on the bus rides, decorating little volleyballs to throw out into the crowd, laughing until my stomach hurts every day with my best friends, hearing “nice set” from coach Castillo, dancing to “Dog Days Are Over” after serve and pass, the bruises I get on my arms after the coaches hit at us, and the feeling of utter joy after winning a really big game or rally.
I am also going to miss looking over at the court next to us where JV is practicing and seeing my sister, Rachel, who is a freshman setter, laughing with her teammates and playing in the same uniform I do. I wish I could’ve driven with her to practice and cheered for her while attending the same school for more than just one year. And now I’m crying.
Who has helped you the most in your career on and off the court and how has their influence allowed you to have a special senior season?
Quigley: I am so blessed to have had so much help and guidance throughout my volleyball career. My eighth-grade volleyball coach, Kate Bradham, will always have a very special place in my heart because she helped me through some pretty tough times as a preteen, and continues to help me by showing constant support in all aspects of my life.
Coach (Maggie) Steines, my JV coach, is my “Coach Bradham” at Boyd because she always provides an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and advice that will take me far. Coach Castillo has encouraged me on and off the court, and I am so thankful she believes and trusts in me to lead the team.
Coach (Stephanie) Wardach always provides the most comforting smiles and reassurance when I am unsure of myself, and because of this, I have been able to grow out of my comfort zone. Finally, the people that have helped me the most in life are my parents and sisters.
We have been through so much together and no one knows me better than them. They’re at every volleyball game, awards ceremony and concert, and know just when I need a little encouragement.
All of this support has brought me so far, and it makes it even more special to share this amazing senior season with all of them.