Photo by Theo Tate
Andrea Valencia is one of three seniors on the Granite City volleyball team who will be graduating in December.
Ashley-Mae Armbruster, Haley Jones and Andrea Valencia can’t wait for December. That’s when the seniors from the Granite City volleyball team will become high school graduates.
Armbruster, Jones and Valencia will earn enough credits to complete their high school coursework by December.
“It takes hard work to do that,” Granite City coach Ginger Harrison said.
Armbruster already has figured out what she’s going to do after graduating from high school in three months. In January, the senior will plan to go to college at either McKendree, Illinois State or Illinois College and play volleyball.
“I’m ready,” said Armbruster, who is taking just three classes this semester. “Some people are scared, but I’m just excited.”
Armbruster said she’s thrilled that she, Jones and Valencia don’t have to wait until May to get their high school diplomas.
“It’s exciting,” she said. “We talk about it all of the time. I’m pretty sure three-fourths of our class is graduating. It’s basically anyone who is not in a spring sport is graduating (early).”
But first, the three seniors are setting their sights on helping their Warriors turn in a solid season in their final year of high school volleyball. Granite City is 2-7 and has 11 matches and two tournaments remaining in its regular season.
One of the tournaments is the Granite City Fall Classic on Saturday. The Warriors will play four matches in the five-team tournament. They will play Red Bud at 9 a.m., Highland at 10 a.m., Civic Memorial at 11 a.m. and Southwestern at 1:30 p.m. Granite City lost matches to Highland, CM and Southwestern earlier this season.
“This could be our last tournament,” said Harrison, whose team finished with one win in last year’s tournament. “The district has made some changes about Saturday events, like not having games on Saturdays. We’re hoping to do very well. We’re hoping to finish really strong this year since this will possibly be our last Fall Classic.”
Highland is the defending tournament champion. The Bulldogs went 5-0 in last year’s tournament; all of the wins were in two games.
Granite City will be playing in its second tournament of the season. The Warriors finished 1-4 in the Alton Redbird Classic Sept. 4-5.
Armbruster, Jones, Valencia, and seniors Ariel Rayl and Ciara Tieman make up the Warriors’ senior class. Valencia joined the team last year as a transfer student from Peru, while the rest of the seniors have been playing with the program since they were freshmen.
Harrison said Valencia’s English speaking skills have improved tremendously.
“She’s doing well,” the Granite City coach said. “She has picked up a lot. I can kind of speak to her now. We can have an understanding. She understands most of what I’m telling her. Every once in a while, she looks back at her phone and she’s like, ‘Oh, OK.’ She was telling me about her favorite Peruvian food, which is salty papas. So I looked that up and I’m going to try to make that for her. It’s sausage and French fries. I thought it was going to be something really hard and I’m going to surprise her one day and bring it for lunch.”
Jones, one of the setters, said during her four years with the volleyball team, Armbruster has been a terrific teammate to her.
“Me and Ashley have been playing together since seventh grade,” Jones said. “I’ve been setting her for a long time, so we have a good bond on and off the court.”
Armbruster, the team’s captain, said her goal for her senior year is to improve on her blocking.
“I did get a couple of blocks (against CM last week), so that’s good,” the Granite City senior said. “I’ve been working on that for quite a few years.”
The Warriors will have four more home matches after Saturday. Armbruster said the final home match, which on Oct. 19 against Madison, will be pretty emotional for her.
“I think about it all of the time,” Armbruster said. “Senior night is creeping up and I’m getting really scared. I know I’m going to cry like a baby because I’m going to miss it. But I’m excited to see what college volleyball does for me.”
• 9 a.m.
Granite City vs. Red Bud (Main Gym)
Highland vs. Civic Memorial (Small Gym)
• 10 a.m.
Granite City vs. Highland (Main Gym)
Red Bud vs. Southwestern (Small Gym)
• 11 a.m.
Civic Memorial vs. Granite City (Main Gym)
Highland vs. Southwestern (Small Gym)
• 12:30 p.m.
Red Bud vs. Highland (Main Gym)
Civic Memorial vs. Southwestern (Small Gym)
• 1:30 p.m.
Granite City vs. Southwestern (Main Gym)
Red Bud vs. Civic Memorial (Small Gym)