By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
A neck injury sidelined West End volleyball player Elissa Self for much of her junior season, which ended with the Lady Patriots qualifying for the Class 2A Elite Eight state tournament.
A completely healthy Self returned to West End’s starting lineup in the fall of 2012, and her performance propelled the squad to a second straight state tournament appearance, where the Lady Patriots fell in the Elite Eight semifinals.
Self’s talents grabbed the attention of Snead State head coach Dee Ayres, and the former Southside High volleyball coach offered Self a scholarship to play for the Parsons.
Self made it official on Jan. 10, signing the paperwork while surrounded by her family and teammates in the WEHS library.
“I tried out as setter, hitter and defense, so I have no idea what she’ll be putting me as,” Self said of Ayres. “I play all the way around and I enjoy all of them, so it wouldn’t matter to me where she put me. I started out as a setter (for West End head coach Audra Noojin), and then she moved me to defense and hitting.”
When it came to the recruiting process, Self didn’t have a favorite college. All she wanted was an opportunity.
“Anywhere that would take me, I would be fine with it. I was just glad [Snead State] asked me to play.”
In helping the Lady Patriots to a No. 5 ranking in the Class 2A state poll, a 32-23 record and a berth in the Class 2A state semifinals, Self finished the season with 375 digs, 138 kills, 95 assists, 74 aces and 36 blocks.
Ayres, the Parsons’ second-year coach, scouted Self during the season and also invited her to attend a tryout at the college.
“We’re really excited to have Elissa,” Ayres said. “She brings a lot to our team. I really think she’s going to fit in well with us. I feel like she’s a utility player, and I can plug her in so many places. I don’t really know as far as where we’re going to utilize her, but I do know she’s going to push every person that has a spot on the team, because she can play anywhere. .”
Noojin said that Self has been a valuable asset to the West End program, describing the senior as a “tremendous” all-around player.
“Elissa began the season as a setter, but I quickly realized that I could not afford to lose her as a defensive player or a hitter,” Noojin said. “She has a great attitude and possesses great leadership qualities. Throughout the two seasons that I have coached her, she progressed to the skill level and the maturity level that is expected from a senior player.”
Self earned four varsity volleyball letters at West End. She’s also cheered and played basketball and softball for the Lady Patriots.
“It’s all been great,” Self said of her volleyball career. “I’ll never forget that last year at state and just how it felt. It was amazing to do that my senior year. It was great.”