Dominant Shimaitis having fun leading surging Longhorns
George Ranch senior Avery Shimaitis is as confident and having as much fun on the volleyball court this year as she's ever had. That's great news for the Pepperdine commit, who is relentlessly peppering the stat sheet game in and game out.
It's not so great for anyone lining up across the net for the Longhorns.
"I feel I've hit something to where I have to play at another level," Shimaitis said. "Next year, I'll be going off to college, so this season I've tried to reach another level with how I play. I'm having more fun and I'm more confident, and I think once I committed, a weight was taken off of me and now I feel I can enjoy the game.
"Every game is so much fun and way more enjoyable now."
Shimaitis's numbers this season are ridiculous.
The 5-foot-10 outside hitter is averaging 5.9 kills per set and hitting .335 with a 42.9 kill percentage. Those numbers are all career-bests, and her kills-per-set average is more than twice what she averaged last season (2.8).
"She's very consistent with what she does," coach Cheyanne Forshee said. "Her hitting error percentage is very minimal. She's not taking crazy, wild swings. She has powerful, strong swings, but they're effective. She knows what she's doing with them."
.@GRHSLonghornVB senior @averyshimaitis already has eight kills and an ace and we’re barely into the second set. Th… https://t.co/OkKP2YTAPZ— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1632877810.0
Shimaitis is, indeed, a smart, violent attacker who does the hard work before she swings. Once she identifies the soft spots in a defense, she then sees to it that she gets the ball there, quickly and furiously.
"I used to always try and hit the hardest shot as possible," Shimaitis said. "Now I know I can go with a cut down the line that people aren't expecting, and I'm just smarter with how I play."
But Shimaitis is far from a one-hit wonder. She's also averaging 3.0 digs per set with 79 total blocks and 35 aces.
"I'm better at blocking, getting my timing down," Shimaitis said "I wanted to work and improve on my defense and serve-receive coming into this year. Those were big for me. I want to be a six-rotation player in college, and I knew I had a lot to work on."
.@averyshimaitis (2) is a force at the net as well for @GRHSLonghornVB. #txhsvb https://t.co/h23zZRw3b7— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1632878291.0
Forshee said Shimaitis' significant growth this season has been her leadership.
Shimaitis has always been a gifted hitter and physical talent; it's why she verbally committed to Pepperdine on Oct. 22 last year. But it's the intangibles that separate her.
Shimaitis' work ethic is second to none. She never misses practice and puts in a lot of time in the weight room. She appreciates the responsibility of being someone others depend on, and she does not take it for granted.
"She's taking that leadership role seriously," Forshee said. "It matters to her. She wants to be one that whenever she leaves, she wants to leave a legacy and leave her name here and be known."
The Longhorns are on a roll of late. Tuesday's sweep of Clements, in which Shimaitis totaled 14 kills, four aces and two blocks, put George Ranch at 5-1 in District 20-6A, 21-12 overall, and winner of 12 of the last 16 games.
"Our expectations are definitely high," Shimaitis said. "We still have a way to go, though, and we have to be more consistent in how strong we play, instead of being like a rollercoaster. That's the standard we're trying to meet every day in practice."