All-Star play evolves from mature mindset

Sam Houston State University’s 2012 Southland Conference Player of the Year started her collegiate volleyball career on the bench.

Deveney Wells-Gibson only played in 49 sets and posted 22 kills her freshman year; a stark contrast preceding her sophomore year where she totaled 466 kills in 113 matches.

“Deveney’s freshman year, she was really quiet. She wore these purple headphones and we didn’t always know she was there,” setter Tayler Gray said.

Time and roster changes contributed to Wells-Gibson’s high performance level, head coach Brenda Gray said. Wells-Gibson’s role changed once Tayler Gray integrated into the starting roster, she said.

“The setters [Gibson’s] freshman year didn’t really utilize her,” Brenda Gray said. “[Tayler Gray] wasn’t afraid to set her.”

Even though Wells-Gibson Player of the Year, she said that was never her goal. She explained being a strong offensive factor on the team, and getting more floor time.

“I wanted to contribute,” she said. “So, I put that on my goal board. My mindset just changed. The Player of the Year award came as a result.”

Wells-Gibson said she feels she has already stepped into a bigger leadership role this season after graduating five key seniors from last year’s team. Tayler Gray said Wells-Gibson’s natural leadership has helped motivate the incoming freshmen this year.

“With new players, everyone has had to step up.” Wells-Gibson said.

Tayler Gray is in her final season with the Bearkats and feels comfortable leaving the leadership role in the hands of Wells-Gibson.

“I wouldn’t choose anyone else to lead this team,” Gray said. “[She] works hard. She is a complete player; she can pass, she can hit. She has a complete game.”

Wells-Gibson has surged this season as a leading force for the Bearkat offense. In the first two weekends of play, she has posted a tournament high 18 kills in their victory over Loyola-Maryland as well as a member in the All-Tournament selection in the Appalachian State Mountaineer Invitational tournament.

“Coaching a player of Deveney’s caliber is wonderful,” Brenda Gray said. “She has a very kind soul and I love her.”

With such strong talent in Wells-Gibson and other players on the team, Coach Gray isn’t waiting until next year to see changes in the team, she said.

“We’re still inserting girls into positions, but we have the pieces.”

The Bearkats are looking to improve upon their 3-5 record this weekend as they host the Sam Houston Invitational. They will host conference rival Lamar University first on Friday night at 7 p.m.

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