By Tamas Mondovics
The Grace Christian volleyball program is on the rise after going undefeated (17-0) and claiming their first JV state championship in school history, and making a state tournament appearance on varsity, going 20-2 overall. The program is lead by third-year volunteer Head Coach Sean Welton. He has four children that have already graduated from Grace Christian, and has three more that currently attend the school. His daughter Jasmine Welton, was primarily on JV this past season, with some appearances on varsity, and his older daughter, Amarrie Welton, was a standout on varsity.
The JV team was lead by freshman outside hitter Brea Simmons, sophomore setter Grace McKeen and 8th-grade middle blocker Jasmine Welton. Jasmine Welton was named MVP of the state championship game when they defeated defending state champ Brush Arbor Christian School. They all expect to make a big impact on varsity next season. “I enjoyed having success from working hard, and next season, I want to help varsity win a championship,” Jasmine Welton said. Welton hopes to play for college volleyball powerhouse Penn State in the future.
When asked what winning the JV state championship meant to him, Sean Welton replied, “I think it shows the young ladies that hard work pays off. We talk about how our Christian attitude and effort affects our God-given ability. They worked really hard at both and played well as a team. It’s a reward for that hard work.”
The varsity team lost to Heritage Christian School in four sets. Heritage Christian has now won two state championships in back-to-back years. Grace Christian was led by junior outside hitter Jazmin Spencer, junior outside hitter Amarrie Welton, junior setter Grace Pukas and junior middle blocker Shelby Salinas. Grace Christian also went to nationals for the second year in a row and moved up from division III to division I, finishing seventh out of 50 teams in Division I. “The team goal is to win the State Championship, and my individual goals are to continue to grow as a volleyball player and leader on the team,” Amarrie Welton said.
Several of the players will play club volleyball in the offseason to hone their skills. The team wants to continue to get better. “We would like to go back to state and win, of course, but first and foremost, we want to represent Christ on and off the court and continue to develop our Christian character,” Sean Welton said.