PEARCY -- Team spirit is abundant on the Lake Hamilton volleyball team.
Head coach Karen Smith sent three players onto the next level during a signing ceremony inside Wolf Arena Wednesday, and all three players illustrated what it meant to be a team player during their time as Lady Wolves.
Daylee Aitken signed to Arkansas Tech, Ann Marie Tice to Ouachita Baptist and Emalee Worden to Henderson State. Aitken started her Lake Hamilton volleyball career as a setter but quickly transitioned to a defensive specialist.
"Amongst one of the best we've had here at Lake Hamilton by far," Smith said. "Daylee is a verbal leader. She is the one who talks it on the court. She talks it at practice. She's not afraid to be that leader. She also is a great team player."
Now known as the person who celebrates her teammates' accomplishments, Aitken had to grow into a better teammate in her time at Lake Hamilton.
"I've learned how to speak to others on the court rather than just yell this is what I expect," Aitken said. "I've learned how to communicate better ways to get things done. I've learned how to just celebrate everybody. My favorite thing about volleyball is not me getting the pass. It's the person who gets the kill or who gets the set."
Smith noted just how many pictures there are of Aitken jumping high into the air when one of her teammates does something well on the court.
Both of Aitken's parents and her grandparents attended Arkansas Tech. Originally, the senior did not want anything to do with the university so she could make her own path.
"I went to one of their camps and I was like, 'This place, I like it," Aitken said. "I went on a visit and I was like, 'This is the place for me.' It just felt like home. It felt amazing. I don't know how to explain that."
Looking at the future Tiger, Smith described Tice as one of the best defensive players she has ever coached, but really highlighted just how good Tice's serving game was in her time at Lake Hamilton.
"One of my favorite things is to watch her when she's on the line and knowing the other team is rattling in their shoes before she even throws the ball in the air and serves," Smith said. "It's a lot of fun watching Ann Marie play."
Tice aims to take that serving ability to the next level at OBU.
"I love serving," Tice said. "That's my favorite part about volleyball. Just being able to serve to help the team out and just better the team with what I bring to the court."
Tice looks forward to the intense speed of collegiate volleyball.
"High school, it's pretty fast but college is just so much faster," Tice said. "I love digging the balls. I love serve-receive. So just getting quick, fast pace and all the cheering and stuff and the loud environment that will be there."
Smith said if she had a most improved award, she would give it to Worden.
"Emalee is one of the players coaches love to have on the team," Smith said. "Emalee shows up to practice every day happy to be there, smile on her face, ready to work. Emalee wants to learn. She wants to get better. What can she do to help her teammates?"
Worden went from a player just playing for fun to a competitor with collegiate talent.
"The coaches really pushed me to get better," Worden said. "At first I was just doing it for fun. Then the coaches gave me the drive to get better and the drive to succeed to my full potential."
Lake Hamilton fielded a roster chocked full of seniors this season, and three will be playing Division II volleyball in the Great American Conference next year.
"It shows that our coach is amazing," Worden said. "I hope that I leave behind a lot of love and a work ethic."
It was clear to see that the three seniors cared about their teammates, and their legacies will no doubt involve team spirit and love for the game.
"I hope to leave behind the loving part of the sport," Tice said. "Coming together as a team. Working as a team. We used to write what we wanted for our team goals. I would always put love each other no matter what. Love each other throughout the wins, the losses, the hard things, the injuries. Just anything. Love each other no matter what."