OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee High School sophomore volleyball player Joy Whipple is this week’s Big Lake Athlete of the Week for her performance on the Lady Brahmans varsity team.
Whipple currently leads the Lady Brahmans in kills with 76 and is tied for aces on the team with 12. Those 76 kills make Whipple the third leading scorer in Okeechobee’s 5A district 12. As a freshman last year, she finished fourth overall in scoring in the district with 160 kills.
Whipple is part of a talented class of players that joined the varsity team in 2018. Anja Koivunea, Ashley Phares, Kiersten Kennedy and Karey Gopher all joined the Lady Brahman varsity team in 2018 and started contributing as freshman. This year they’re joined by fellow sophomores Morgan Tucker and Callie Rucks.
The infusion of new talent has Okeechobee competing with teams that usually steamrolled the Lady Brahmans en route to a district championship. Last year for the first time in nearly a decade, Okeechobee took one set against the perennial district champion Jensen Beach Lady Falcons. This year the Lady Brahmans took two sets from Jensen and were three points away from pulling off the win.
In that game against Jensen back on Sept. 17, Whipple tied for the most kills with Koivunea with 12. In the following game against Port St. Lucie, Whipple once again led the team in kills with nine. The Lady Brahmans shut out Port St Lucie in that game 3-0.
In addition to playing on the varsity team Whipple also plays for Chobee Volleyball Academy (CVA), a travel club here in Okeechobee that has had success in recent years. Last year Whipple credited CVA for helping make the transition to varsity volleyball from middle school easier.
“Just this past CVA travel season we were able to make it to AAU nationals,” said Whipple,” and it really showed me the intensity of this sport. At this level playing with intensity is crucial.”
This is Whipple’s second time winning athlete of the week; she won it last year during her freshman season as well.
The Lady Brahmans will be back on the court in Fort Pierce to take on Westwood on Sept. 25 before coming back to Okeechobee to host Treasure Coast at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26.