Player of the Year: No slowin’ Sloan in march toward Walton’s four-peat
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
November 28, 2013 12:33 AM | 1780 views | 1 1 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jessica Sloan
<Br>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
Jessica Sloan
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
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Jessica Sloan grew up participating in a variety of activities, having danced, swam and golfed. She also dabbled with softball and soccer.

But once Sloan gave volleyball a shot at a YMCA camp when she was 10, it didn’t take long for her to become a one-sport star. She loved playing it that much.

“I’m competitive,” she said. “I thought (volleyball) was a lot of fun.”

Over the years, Sloan’s competitiveness has helped transform her into one of the state’s biggest and most reliable hitters. After leading Walton to its fourth straight championship in the state’s biggest classification, Sloan is the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Volleyball Player of the Year.

Sloan was a part of Walton’s feeder program once she first started playing volleyball, and that led her to becoming a regular member of the A5 club volleyball organization. While she learned much from the coaches she played for, the one that stood out the most for Sloan was A5 founder Bob Westbrook.

“He showed me how I should stand (before a point), what position I need to be in before I hit and how I should serve and what spot to serve to,” Sloan said.

Spending her first few seasons at Walton as an understudy for former standouts Kelly Murphy and Katherine Plessy also helped Sloan’s development.

Sloan said Murphy rarely made errors on the outside and would always put the ball down at different spots on the court. Furthermore, she added, a lot of her competitive spirit came from Plessy.

If there’s one label to describe Sloan’s style of play, it would be consistency. She was efficient, recording double-digit kill totals in almost every match.

It did take a few early matches for Sloan and her Walton teammates to jell this season, but they found their niche after winning five of six matches at a tournament in Orlando, Fla., in late September.

Once they returned Cobb County, the Lady Raiders reeled off 22 straight wins, capped with a four-set victory over Chattahoochee for the Class AAAAAA state title Nov. 1.

However, there was one time that Walton got into a rut, and that was in the Area 4AAAAAA championship against Roswell, a team the Lady Raiders had beaten in straight sets three times.

Walton trailed two sets to one before winning in five sets, behind Sloan’s 30 kills.

“Going into that match, I thought we would definitely beat them,” Sloan said. “Then, while we were playing, we realized it wasn’t going to be so easy. I think we worked really hard and didn’t let points go by that we should win. It showed how important mental toughness was.”

Sloan went on to have one of her better showings in the semifinals, with 20 kills against South Forsyth, and tacked on 20 more kills in the finals against Chattahoochee.

Sloan, who will be playing for the University of Dayton next season, is one of a few high school athletes who will leave with four straight state championships.

“It’s amazing,” Sloan said about her four seasons with Walton. “It’s amazing to win four in a row.”

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Karen Hallacy
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November 29, 2013
Congrats! We are so proud of you and your hard work. We look forward to hearing great things about you at the University of Dayton next year.
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