With the 2020 volleyball season underway, players and coaches across the state of Texas aim to achieve their goals on and off the court no matter what stands in their way. The same applies to the Paris Lady ’Cats, who seek another district title and another solid playoff run.
This year, Paris’ junior libero Bella Hill is striving to lead the charge for her team on and off the court with a goal in mind to continue to raise the standard of the school’s volleyball program. She played a key role even while on the bench most of last season, but the junior is relishing her new role and has years of experience and learning to help her along the way.
“Initially, I started playing volleyball in middle school. I played it out through junior high, then I played on JV my freshman year,” Bella said. “I kept working hard in practice and sat on the bench most of my sophomore year. I learned all the plays and how to move around the court by watching and learning from our seniors. Coming into junior year, I’m still working hard after earning the starting libero spot and being named a captain. I’m trying to be a leader for my team in hopes of leading our team to success and past the second round of the playoffs.”
Along with embracing visual learning and vocal leadership, Bella incorporated skills from other sports she competed in to help sharpen her volleyball game.
“I used to do dance, and dancing really helped me with my coordination, balance, movement, and getting my footwork to be consistent on the back row,” Bella said. “It helps me get to my spots on time to be ready for what’s coming over the net. When playing golf, I learned how to be patient, mentally tough, and how I can help my team come together to beat tough opponents.”
Bella draws motivation to play the game from several different places, and she uses that positive energy to both fuel her game and to give back to her supporters.
“Coach (Ashley) Green really does make you want to be better in practice every day,” Bella said. “She makes you want to work hard and give 110 percent, but my other supporter is my brother Blaine Hill. He really encourages me every day to come in and work hard. Even when I was on JV or sitting the bench on varsity, he encouraged me to do whatever was right and to keep pushing. And now, I’m the varsity libero, and I’m still working hard for him because he’s such a big role model in my life. I’m playing for him, my mom, my dad, and my team. I’m really trying to make Coach Green and my family proud.”
Amidst a global pandemic and uncertainty surrounding the season, Bella credits Coach Green with how she keeps the team’s heads in the right places while remaining driven and goal-oriented.
“Coach Green really pushes us to stay focused during these hard times,” Bella said. “We come in, we practice, we have fun with it, but we always keep our mindset the same. During games, we always keep pushing even if we’re down, and we know we have to get around the ball and keep our technique and fundamentals right. She’s been a really good asset in helping us push forward during these hard times. She makes sure we keep our masks on so we can keep our season alive and keep up our hard work.”
Along with her coach, Bella credits her current and previous teammates for helping shape her into the player she is today.
“Even during my time on the bench for the varsity, I still had the same mindset as playing on the court,” said Bella, who finished with a game-high 21 digs in a recent five-set win at a powerful Bullard squad. “I just tried to soak in everything I could to help lead my teammates for when my time came. I took a lot of time to see how my teammates did things before me, and it is a big reason why I’m here today.”
She has worked for most everything in her life but, as a child, Bella had an unexpected surprise waiting for her on one Christmas Eve. The surprise came in the form of a living small, spiny, and furry ball in a cage in her room.
“When I was in fifth grade, I was really obsessed with hedgehogs,” Bella said. “One night, I came home on Christmas Eve, went upstairs, and my parents surprised me with a little hedgehog that I named Lenny Ricardo.”
Balancing your personal, athletic, and school life can be taxing for a high school-aged student. For Bella, seeing her significant other through spending quality time together helps her alleviate any stress she is experiencing in all of those key areas in her life.
“When I’m stressed or I need a place to vent or get my mind off things, I take it up with my boyfriend,” Bella said. “By hanging out with him, I’m always locked into the conversation and I don’t worry about anything stressing me out with school, volleyball, or my family. Instead, I just focus on my time with him like I zone in when I’m on the volleyball court. Being with him really gets my mind off anything stressful.”
During her junior high days on the volleyball court, Bella recalled a bizarre memory she had of an opposing player, who seemed to be confused between her role as a player and a disgraced school mascot.
“In eighth grade there was this girl from Pleasant Grove when I was on A team volleyball who would squawk at us when we served the ball,” Bella said, laughing. “She would make these weird squawking noises at us, and my teammates would just laugh while wanting her to shut up.”
Bella and the Lady ’Cats will travel to Wills Point to face the Lady Tigers at 4:30 p.m. today.
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