Photo by Diane Cox
GODFREY — The winningest season in Alton High volleyball history will stay fresh in Jordan Nolan’s mind for a long time.
That’s because the 5-foot-7 senior setter was a big part of it.
Nolan’s sharp work in setting and passing proved crucial in the Redbirds’ 25-8-1 season. Alton established a school record for victories, eclipsing the 24-win mark in 2008. The Birds’ volleyball program dates back to 1976.
“It was really a successful season and a most enjoyable and memorable one,” said Nolan, AdVantage News’ Prep Volleyball Player of the Year.
AHS coach Stacey Ferguson pointed to Nolan, a second-team, all-Southwestern Conference choice, as a driving force behind the Redbirds’ winning ways.
“She has tremendous leadership, maintains her composure and works hard to improve,” Ferguson said. “Jordan was a key player for us this season because of her work ethic, attitude and leadership.
“The girls on the team could always rely on Jordan to play a smart play.”
Plenty of good plays, too. Nolan logged a single-season school record 590 assists after registering 538 assists — the previous AHS mark — during her junior season. All figured, she accounted for more than 1,700 assists in her four years of varsity competition.
“I really like to be there for my team,” Nolan said. “I want to be the rock for them and be level-headed with my play to keep them going.”
The Redbirds kept going and going, particularly through the middle of the season. They were 3-1 at one point before winning 16 consecutive matches. Alton lost its final five bouts, including one to sectional finalist Springfield in the Class 4A Edwardsville Regional.
“The difference between this season and last season (when the Redbirds were 16-18) was that we came together and we had chemistry on and off the court,” Nolan said. “The seniors were a tight-knit group and there was a lot of trust among us.”
Ferguson said Nolan best exemplified that trust factor in pushing the Redbirds to be their best at all times.
“Jordan is a four-year varsity player and our setter since her sophomore season, so she was valuable to us both as server and on defense,” Ferguson said. “She worked very hard at everything and could turn a not-so-great pass into a hittable ball.”
While spiking might seem more glamorous to some players, Nolan relished the notion of returning shots and setting up ones for the AHS front line.
“I enjoy getting assists because it’s kind of like I’m controlling what happens next in the game,” she said of her passing skills.
Her talent was best on display in both Alton tournaments. The Redbirds went undefeated, winning both of them, and Nolan was the MVP each time.
Next up is college and Nolan could be attending Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She intends to major in biomedical engineering, meaning her volleyball career may be finished.
“I might play intramural and club volleyball in college. We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Nolan said. “I know I’m going to miss all the good times we had in high school volleyball. There was a lot of camaraderie and good competition.”
She pointed out, “It’s a good feeling to see the program doing well. I’m looking forward to coming back (to AHS) in the future.”