Mother McAuley’s Courtney Joyce the SouthtownStar 2013 Girls Volleyball Player of the Year
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org November 18, 2013 9:34PM
Mother McAuley's Courtney Joyce (8) celebrates a point with her team mates. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 20, 2013 6:09AM
Courtney Joyce conducts the Mother McAuley offense like Ringmaster Ned did Bozo’s Circus. Or Leonard Berstein the New York Philharmonic.
That’s to say with confidence. Flair. Very apparent enthusiasm.
It didn’t happen by accident.
“When I was a sophomore and I was the youngest player, I had all of the seniors all kind of leading me,” Joyce, the SouthtownStar 2013 Girls Volleyball Player of the Year said. “They taught me the leadership I needed. And when I felt stressed, I could put all of my stress and pressure on them.
“Coming into my junior and senior years, being the oldest person on the court, I already had learned that you need to take the stress of the younger players, take accountability and responsibility for what goes on out on the court.”
The 5-foot-9 senior setter, who will attend Western Illinois, led the Mighty Macs to state for the second consecutive season, with the team winning the Class 4A crown Saturday. Her contributions were many.
She spread the ball around to big hitters, totaling 694 assists. She often took things into her own right hand, either tipping or pounding the ball to the floor for 108 kills. Her 238 digs helped complete a solid McAuley defense. She could serve well, too, landing 20 aces.
And she does it all like a natural.
“One time Courtney said to me, ‘You know, when I was born I think I was 30 years old.’ I said, ‘Courtney, that’s exactly what I’d say about you, too. You’re an old soul.’ She’s just wise beyond her years,” Macs coach Jen DeJarld said.
“She has always taken volleyball very seriously. It’s just such a passion for her. Someday I think she’s going to make a great coach. She already has the tendencies.”
Nobody fools an opposing defense quite like Joyce. She’ll look to one side, then set the other. Or find Clark or Caffey for quick-set in the middle. Or drop a misdirection tip into the middle of a frozen triangle.
For that ability she thanks her mom.
Susan Joyce is a Chicago police officer who competed in volleyball in recreation leagues, most prominent the Police Olympics.
“They went to Canada a few years, to Mexico a few years ... they just played volleyball,” Courtney Joyce said. “I learned volleyball from my mom and her friends. She taught herself how to play. They kind of based their game off shots and finding open spots on the floor.
“Now, it’s like you have to hit hard and use a lot of power, but they always just learned shots and tips. There is a way to be on the court, it’s called being cheap. When I became a setter and they put me in the front row in club, I was like, ‘This is easy.’ ”
It’s even easier, having a choice among Ryann DeJarld, Maggie Scanlon, Kennedy Arundel, Kelsey Clark and Kayla Caffey, all of whom had 80 or more kills for the season.
“I have that great of hitters, that strong of a team that no matter where I put the ball they can make a smart shot or put it down,” Joyce said. “If I only had one or two strong hitters I’d have to rely on them. But I have that opportunity to spread it around because I have such great hitters.
“There is no better feeling than putting my hitters in a good spot to get kills.”