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DULLES JUNIOR OUTSIDE HITTER KYLIE MUELLER WANTS YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF HER. SHE PROMISES. SHE'S REALLY NICE AND COOL ONCE YOU GET TO KNOW HER.
"Incoming freshmen always say I'm scary and intimidating, but I don't think I am," Mueller said, laughing.
"I'd like to think I'm an approachable person. Once they know me, they know I'm cool. I think sometimes I can get so in it when I'm on the court, but I'm not scary."
Ah, the qualifier. Mueller is for sure not scary. Off the court, that is.
On it, she is a monster, compiling a team-best 190 kills and 191 digs to go with 20 blocks last season while being named District 20-6A's Co-Most Valuable Player. This season, she's having another exceptional campaign, with a team-best 337 kills to go with 372 digs and 32 blocks.
So, yeah, opposing teams find Mueller pretty scary.
"When I get on that court, I'm ready to play," said Mueller, renown for often losing her voice after games because of her demonstrative yelling during them. "I'm ready to go for everything and give it my all. One hundred-percent effort has always come easily to me. I'm super competitive."
Mueller credits her support system for her success last year.
Her parents inspire her to be a better player every day and are always encouraging her to push her limits.
"I'm constantly working hard to get better," Mueller said.
On the court, she became more versatile. The biggest growth from her first year on varsity as a freshman to her sophomore year was the ability to do more for the team and embrace her rapid rise as a team leader.
"I was able to up my game in every aspect," Mueller said.
Mueller knows this junior season is important for recruiting purposes.
On the court, she has changed her hitting form to get more power on her swing by opening up more to the ball and engaging more of the core and hips, instead of just her shoulder, to get more of a fluid motion.
"It does feel like a little bit of pressure," Mueller said. "I know I'll have to take a step back before I go forward, and it's scary knowing I'll have to do that in my big recruiting season, but I know it's what I need to do."
This story appeared in the Inaugural VYPE Fort Bend ISD Fall Edition, which is now available to pick up at your local Fort Bend ISD High Schools.
Dulles senior Devin Graham.
GOING BACK ALL THE WAY TO WHEN HE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD – WHEN HE STARTED PLAYING FOOTBALL AND INITIALLY HATED IT – DULLES SENIOR RUNNING BACK DEVIN GRAHAM HAD A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER.
'Chip' may be underselling it. Boulder is probably more appropriate.
"I have always been the smallest person on the field, and when I started playing, I hated the sport," the 6-foot Graham said. "I got tired of getting hit. So, instead, one day, I just flipped the roles. And ever since, I fell in love with the game of football."
Graham became the attacker instead of the attacked. He set out to look for and initiate contact instead of having it come to him. And that mindset has paid off.
Graham enters the 2021 season as a leader for the Vikings, not just for his play on the field (a unanimous all- district, first-team selection following a team-best 599 yards and five touchdowns in eight games in 2020) but for his work ethic.
"I have worked for everything I'm receiving right now," said Graham, who has 213 rushing yards and two touchdowns in five games this season. "I've put in countless hours in my garage, working out, pushing myself to excel, going to a sand pit and just running sprints. So, nothing here is just given."
Graham is a natural leader. Demonstrative, even. It could be perceived that he's a mean guy. But Graham knows how to approach teammates, as far as which ones he can be hard on and which ones he needs to wrap an arm around.
"I want to let them know I'm there," Graham said. "Everyone takes constructive criticism differently, and I have learned about every one of my teammates and how I can bring the best out of every one of them. This team is my family."
Graham, who has impressive vision and a natural feel for running the ball, worked on all aspects of his game during the offseason.
He is also playing extra inspired. Graham's aunt and grandfather died within the last year. He is dedicating this season to them.
"They were very close to me and I know they're watching over me," Graham said. "They always told me I was next up, so I'm going to make them proud. I have a big role to fill as a leader on this team, and I have a lot of people watching me. I'm going to set a great example for the classes underneath me."