The Plant City junior leads her volleyball team in kills and helped win a district title last week.
Plant City High School’s volleyball team beat Armwood in three sets last week to capture its first district championship since 1980. One of the key contributors to that championship has been junior outside hitter Mallory Smith, who leads the Raiders with 110 kills on the season and is third among 6A-District 11 players with an average of 2.6 kills per set through 43 sets played as of Tuesday (the Raiders played last night and game results weren’t available at press time).
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Winning your district is always a good feeling, but how did it feel to help your school win one for the first time since 1980?
It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed playing in it and knowing it’s been 40 years made it even better. Having this team be able to do it after 40 years, it felt amazing proving that this was the team to win it and show up.
What is it about this team that just works so well?
All-around, we’re all really good friends outside of volleyball and that helps make everything click. It’s just so easy for us, with our friendships, how we connect on the court. We work together, show our chemistry on the court and play… we pick each other up. If we make a mistake, we know that one mistake is just one point. Every point, good or bad, is one point and if we mess up, we pick each other up when we say “Hey, we got it next point.”
What are you most proud of this year?
I’m really proud of this team and how we had to play Strawberry Crest three different times, and each time we were so ready to play them and motivated to beat them. Every time, we did. In the last game, the district semifinal, we beat them in three sets.
How long have you been playing volleyball?
Since I was 9 years old. My favorite thing about the sport is playing with my teammates and having fun. When I’m on this court, it’s just a place to have fun and that’s really important to me so I don’t get burnt out. Playing with all my girls and having fun — but we’re also able to be serious about it so we can win big games like these.
Do you play any other sports?
No. My sister, she went to Plant City High School and I remember watching her play games like Durant and Newsome, and I was thinking I really wanted to do this, to play volleyball like she did. She helped me get into the sport and taught me everything I needed to know.
Any college plans?
I definitely think I should play to the next level and I’m in the process of getting out there. My sister also played college volleyball and I think that would be a really fun thing for me to do. And especially working on my education.
What kind of program would be a good fit for you?
I think it would be like how the girls are. If they’re nice and welcoming, that’s a really important part of the whole aspect. Having fun with the team and making sure we’re being serious but enjoying the sport of volleyball.
After your senior season next year, what do you hope you can say you accomplished here?
That throughout these four years being on varsity, I had an amazing time playing volleyball at Plant City High School with all the girls with me for this entire ride. I’m really proud of each and every single person on the team, really. I think we had an amazing year. Anyone coming into this school as a freshman, they need to make sure they have fun with what they’re doing because that’s what wins games. If you’re having fun, then you’re gonna do good.