The Grace Christian varsity volleyball team avenged last year’s state championship loss to Heritage Christian in three straight sets to claim the state title. The team finished with an overall record of 30-2, while going undefeated (17-0) in conference play.
“It was a goal we always reached for,” said senior Amarrie Welton. “It means a lot to the team especially this year because this was our last year. We finally won the state game.” She is the daughter of Head Coach Sean Welton.
Amarrie Welton was named MVP of the conference and of the Championship game. “It’s always tough to have your dad coach,” said Sean Welton. “When she was selected as MVP by other coaches of the conference and at the state game, it solidified her as a great player. It made me proud to be her dad and her coach.”
According to Coach Welton, the team was able to successfully prepare for conference play by playing tough teams that were in a higher division during non-conference play. They won two tournaments in the regular season, the Bayshore Christian Tournament and the Pensacola PCC Tournament.
Players that were on the team include: Amarrie Welton, Grace Pukas, Shelby Salinas, Jazmine Spencer, Jasmine Welton, Brea Simmons, Daviana Denney, Grace McKeen, Landri Clark and Cameron Givens.
There were seven seniors on this team. Captain setter Grace Pukas will attend Wesleyan College to play volleyball and outside hitter Amarrie Welton is signing with Minot State in North Dakota. Some players will retire from volleyball while others will continue to look for opportunities to play at the next level. This was Sean Welton’s fourth season as head coach and was his last season at the helm. The JV head coach and Grace Christian alumnus, Madison Blalock will take over for the retired Welton.
“I’m happy for the girls and all the hard work they put in on and off the court for the last four years,” said Sean Welton. “Just to work hard and continue to get better and to finally win the state championship was just a wonderful experience for them. It showed them that with hard work, a good attitude and a good Christian effort, you’ll be able to accomplish most things.”
Grace Christian School is located at 1425 N. Valrico Rd. in Valrico. More information on the school can be found at www.gracechristianschool.com.