CHEYENNE – Before fall camp began, the gymnasium at Cheyenne South was filled with volleyballs.
Rep after rep, Kiley Still spent hours fine-tuning her sets and making sure they were perfect. Her work ethic doesn’t allow her to miss a step.
As the Bison began team activities earlier this month, Still arrived 40 minutes early – well before the scheduled start of each practice – to get some extra work in. Once school started this week, she hit the gym before class. Last season, most notably, Still worked on her game every Saturday.
Between early morning workouts, class and practice, Still’s days are almost always long and exhausting.
“Well, yeah,” she laughed before turning serious. “But you have a dedication towards your team, as well. You’re putting the ball there for them, so they can have hittable sets. I’m doing my best so they can do their best, as well.”
Still’s dedication to the sport and, most importantly, her teammates is relentless. The junior standout enters her third season as a varsity starter for the Lady Bison. She was an outside hitter her freshman season, and this will be her second as the starting setter.
“It’s been beneficial to learn different parts of the game and different perspectives when it comes to volleyball and to see it from a whole different side,” she said.
Last season, Still set a school record with 618 assists.
Still upped her training and preparation to another level over the offseason, and her unwavering work ethic paid off during the first week of practice. When first-year head coach Cherissa Applehunt took over the reins of the program, she implemented a program called “Top Gun,” which, essentially, was a list of conditioning tests her team went through. The program included the one-mile run, sprints, the dot drill, vertical jump and various lifts in the weight room. The goal for each athlete was to record 130 points. Still scored more than 140.
She was named one of two team captains. Classmate Riley Van Tassell is the other South captain.
“I wanted to try and work my hardest to be one of the best and show leadership on the team now that I’m an upperclassman and just work hard to be one of the best,” Still said.
But Still’s leadership embodies more than the physical work she has put in. She also has been a constant voice – one full of inspiration and motivation – for her teammates.
“The fact that she can pick up all of her teammates, which is simple encouraging words,” Applehunt said. “She’s definitely someone that the team is looking up to – the entire team – even
freshmen all the way to juniors. That’s something that we asked them, and they said she’s definitely a leader because the way that her encouraging words inspire (them) to go forward,” Applehunt said.
“She’s someone, even when she’s down, she has a smile on her face. The confidence is getting there, but her athletic skill is something that is very impressive.”
Still posted 12 assists and nine digs for South, who dropped a pair of matches to Thunder Basin and Casper Natrona County at the Cheyenne Invitational on Friday.
The most important aspect Still brings to the court every day is an endless amount of positivity. Her smile is infectious, Applehunt said, and Still’s willingness to learn new things about the game make her that much better. It may be Applehunt’s first season at the helm for the Bison, but the coach sees a true leader emerging in Still.
“I love watching her play. The excitement that she brings to the table (and) she’s very confident in her team and pushes them, but she’s also someone … she came a long way from last year with confidence and really just working in the gym, in the weight room. Being a junior, she’s really taken that role seriously and doing a nice job with it.
“She’s someone that I love to watch and keep inspiring to get better. She’s someone I can’t wait to see at the end of the season to get a little more experience, a little bit more time on the court.”
South drops pair at home tourney
Cheyenne South dropped both of its matches at the Cheyenne Invite on Friday. South lost to Thunder Basin 20-25, 9-25 and Casper Natrona County 14-25, 22-25.
Junior setter Kiley Still posted a team-best 12 assists and added nine digs. Juniors Calysta Martinez and Riley Van Tassell each recorded seven kills. Sophomore Reyna Tovar registered a team-high 15 digs.
South (0-2) takes on Laramie at 9 a.m. today in the first of three matches.