In the history of Jackson volleyball, no Indian had ever recorded 1,000 digs in their career prior to this season. Senior libero Holland Guilliams changed that last week when she reached the mark in what is her fourth and final year as a starter for Jackson.
Guilliams accomplished this feat in a 3-0 shutout of Class 3 Valle Catholic on the road Sept. 11, where she recorded a personal season-high total of 19 digs versus the Warriors. Holland’s previous season-high digs mark on the year was 17 that she notched in the season-opener versus Incarnate Word Academy Aug. 26.
Heading into the season, Guilliams was already Jackson’s all-time digs leader with 917, and it was only a matter of time that she eclipsed 1,000. This was certainly a goal for Holland, who is also the first player to record 1,000 digs in Indians head coach Dave Mirly’s 19-year coaching career.
“It’s obviously such an honor and has been an individual goal of mine,” Guilliams said. “It’s an individual stat and less team-oriented, but I have to give a lot of credit to Grace [Newell], Charlee [Koepp], my other [defensive specialists] and my hitters, obviously, because they work with me in practice, train me and give me feedback all the time. They help me grow, so I have to give a lot of credit to them even though it’s a more personal thing.”
Having recorded 1,000 career digs shows that Guilliams is certainly the type of libero that’s going to do whatever it takes to get to the ball. While she couldn’t pick out one dig in particular, Holland said there have been many to where she isn’t even sure how she was able to make the play.
“A lot of the time I just close my eyes and am like, ‘Oh, I got that? Like, I don’t even know where the ball went,’” Guilliams joked. “There’s been a lot [of digs].”
While reaching the mark wasn’t something that Holland constantly thought about during matches, she can still now play freely knowing she accomplished one of her career goals. Guilliams went on to say that even though obtaining this feat never put pressure on her, she’s very proud of herself and happy that she’s put in all the hard work over the years.
“It’s just special to me, and I can be someone that can guide and have younger girls look up to,” Holland said. “Like maybe they can pass me up and have that mindset of go attack every single day with the best effort you can. Just be the best you can be every single day and work with your teammates. Allow them to make you better, allow yourself to make them better, work as a team and stay connected.”
Something that shouldn’t shock most is that Guilliams, who is the reigning SEMO Conference Player of the Year and a two-time conference libero of the year, will play volleyball at the next level. In fact, Holland committed to local Division-I university Southeast Missouri State following last season.
Ever since she stepped foot on the court at Jackson, Coach Mirly described Guilliams as a college-ready player with incomparable mental toughness. Mirly said Holland was ready to play at the junior college level her freshman year, D-II as a sophomore and D-I last year.
“She’s worked so hard, and she’s put so much time into volleyball playing club, travel, doing private workouts and stuff,” Coach Mirly said. “It’s great to see someone that puts that much work and effort to get rewarded by having 1,000 digs, being a great member of a great team and then going off to play D-I.”
In her time with the Indians, Guilliams has led Jackson to win three-straight Class 5 District 1 Championships, five SEMO Conference championships (three tournament, two regular season) and a total of 102 games so far.
To emphasize just how important Holland is not only as a player but as a leader, too, for the Indians, Coach Mirly went back in time to recall a period where he and his team were without Guilliams for a few games her sophomore year due to an injury.
“Those couple games she missed, I was talking to my assistants and said, ‘Something is wrong — we aren’t the same,’” Mirly recalled. “We realized it was that Holland wasn’t there. She really gets us going and is the glue that makes everybody work — she makes the whole team stick together. When she’s not there, that energy is just missing. She’s just such a special person and special leader that I’m fortunate and honored to coach.”
Next fall when Guilliams is at SEMO, she’s most looking forward to having her family around to support her during the stressful times that will come while making the transition of being a college athlete. Holland also has the chance to take over for arguably the best libero in Redhawks volleyball history, Tara Beilsmith.
Beilsmith, who is SEMO’s all-time and single-season digs leader, is currently playing her final year at SEMO this fall. Last season after leading the entire nation in digs, Tara became the first player in Redhawks history to be named the Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
“That’s a lot of pressure and obviously I have to work for my spot — that’s never given,” Guilliams said. “She’s obviously very, very talented, and I feel like I can definitely learn a lot from her. Like her input in the game on the mental side and not just her talent and skills, but how she thinks about the game, too.”