FAIRFIELD — Henlie Krause filtered through her senior season memory bank. The Fairfield High School volleyball star couldn’t pinpoint anything specific that stood out the most other than focusing on her teammates.
“There was something special about playing with them,” Krause said. “The work ethic that I saw in the girls this year was the best work ethic in the four years of being here. The chemistry was something that I had never been a part of before. It was easy for everyone to get along and enjoy the type of season that we had.”
And the Indians had some success in 2022.
Fairfield completed its best campaign since 2014, finishing 18-6 overall and 7-2 in the Greater Miami Conference. That was enough conviction for the league to vote Krause as the GMC’s Player of the Year and Fairfield’s Jessi Grimes as Coach of the Year.
“The girls have an insane work ethic,” said Grimes, who is in her third year of a second stint as head coach. “My name is on that award because of those girls. It’s fun to see how they’ve exceeded our level of expectations. The coaches recognize that. It’s a group effort, and we’re really starting to define what kind of culture we have with this program.
“This team was so special,” Grimes added. “I was really sad to see it end. To be able to see how much we improved was so much fun.”
Grimes said one specific game defined the type of team the 2022 squad was. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a win.
“It’s always easy when you’re winning. But our game against Sycamore was absolutely something else,” Grimes said of Fairfield’s 3-2 loss to the Aviators on Sept. 29. “Seeing their resilience was a lot of fun. I’m a terrible loser. But the stands were filled, the crowd was crazy, and the girls fought until the end.”
The Sycamore loss was in the middle of an 11-1 span for the Indians before they surged into the postseason. Grimes attributed that to mental toughness.
“I have hard workers, and I have talented athletes,” Grimes said. “Our resiliency and being able to continue to get better was huge. We focused a lot on doing drills that are specifically beneficial for when we are down in games.
“But we also know that mistakes are going to happen,” Grimes added. “We know that good volleyball is going to be played. There are going to be some big momentum swings and some stuff-blocks in your face, but we truly worked as a team, picked each other up and communicated in order to stay focused.
“That type of shift towards positivity and having a big heart is how we’re going to represent Fairfield and the athletic department from now on.”
“As talented as Henlie (Krause) is and as incredible of an athlete as she is and how fun she is to watch, she is equally as humble,” Grimes said. “As proud of her as we are for her getting that award, she isn’t one who loves the spotlight. She keeps her head down and grinds it out and works hard. She’s just an incredible athlete to have in your program as a leader.”
“We focus on the character education side of things and what it means to be a good teammate,” Grimes said. “You can either do one of two things, and that choice can be frustrating for yourself and get in your feels, which would be a selfish decision. The other decision is to be that much more driven to better the next ball. We’re always focused on bettering that next ball.”
“Volleyball is such a huge team sport,” Krause said. “You really can’t do a lot without that first ball. It’s really all about my teammates and how they all together.”
“I improved a lot this year about being smarter and being ready for other team’s defenses,” Krause said. “I always felt like I got better at having a purpose when I got the ball. I wasn’t just hitting it. I felt like there was always a reason as to why I would hit a shot. That really helped me. And the same with the other girls — we were just a lot smarter this season.”
“I feel like we had a great season, and I think this is a turning point for the program,” Krause said. “I hope it stays on that path.”
“At the beginning of the season we had a tougher schedule and I think we were down,” Krause said. “But when we were down, we used that to our advantage and we learned from our losses. We didn’t back down, and we just continued to get better.”
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