She led the Wolverines to their first county championship in nine years and into Elite Eight for the first time since 1998, Townsend was voted Cherokee County’s Player of the Year by the majority of the six high school coaches in the county. And now she has been selected as the Cherokee Tribune Player of the Year.
For Townsend, the award has helped to make all of the hard work she has put into the sport ever since she picked in up in the seventh grade worth it.
“It feels like the ultimate payoff for all the work I’ve put in,” said Townsend, who has started as the Wolverines’ setter since her freshman year. “It feels really good to win it.”
Though proud of the accomplishment, Townsend said she was stunned to hear that she hade been chosen as the county’s top player.
“I honestly never expected it. When my coach told me, I was blown away,” Townsend said. “Being a setter, you’re really not that flashy of a player, and that’s why I chose the position. I was never really aiming for the player of the year award because I never thought that it would happen.”
With 534 assists on the season, Townsend allowed outside hitters Sara Graf and Riley McBay to terrorize opponents at the net.
Townsend proved to be more than just an excellent setter for the Wolverines. She also totaled 33 digs and 31 kills on the season, and proved to be on of their leaders on the court.
Woodstock coach Anita Dodd, who has known Townsend since the sixth grade, didn’t seemed surprised by Townsend’s accomplishment.
“Grace is one of the hardest working kids that I have ever seen in my life,” said Dodd, who also won the Coach of the Year award. “She is just an all-around extreme player that gives 110 percent no matter what it is.”
Dodd was quick to describe how Townsend was one to lead by example.
“She is almost always the first one done with conditioning, the first one to be out on the court dressed and ready to go,” Dodd said. “She’s always the first one to do everything because that’s just who she is. Grace is the kind of player that you don’t get very often. She is a phenomenal individual.”
Dodd may also have the honor of being the last coach to ever benefit from Townsend’s talents, as the Woodstock senior has decided to call it quits on her volleyball career once she enters college.
Though she found the decision a difficult one, Townsend said being named the player of the year helped her make the choice to step away from the game.
“Winning the award really helped my decision to end my volleyball career because I got to leave with what I feel is the ultimate prize,” Townsend said.
Townsend hopes to attend Georgia Tech to pursue a career in engineering.
Though her volleyball days may now be behind her, Townsend insisted that the game would still be a part of her life.
“I’ll still be involved with volleyball,” she said. “Perhaps as a member of a club team or even eventually as a coach. My sister is on (Woodstock’s) team, so I’m sure that I’ll still be watching a lot of games. My real career in it is over, but I’m not going to leave volleyball. I’ll have it forever.”