CROWN POINT | Alyssa Kvarta has a simple explanation for her excitement after every point she scores.
"It's really important to show how much you care about the game by showing your emotions," the Crown Point junior setter said. "If somebody gets a really big kill, there's no way you can't just jump up and down and scream for that person and pick up the whole team."
"When you see her reaction to points earned, it's always a big celebration," Bulldogs volleyball coach Alison Duncan said. "Every point matters. We don't take any one of them lightly. Volleyball is a game of momentum. She is a momentum stopper, in part because of her celebration. Other teams see that excitement, especially after she makes an ace or a block or a kill, and it's huge."
Kvarta had a lot to cheer about this season: Crown Point won its first sectional title in 21 years; Kvarta was named the Duneland Athletic Conference's MVP; she picked her college, set to attend East Tennessee State, and the junior was named the Times volleyball player of the year.
After a sophomore season that garnered attention from Division-I schools from across the country, Kvarta's junior year included a role change. After the graduation of another setter, the Bulldogs opted for a 5-1 offense, one that pulled Kvarta away from the option as a prominent hitter.
That didn't necessarily stop her from racking up the kills. She recorded 199 kills and 26 of her 116 blocks were solo. Her biggest stat -- 922 assists -- came because of her soft, accurate hands.
"She was extremely aggressive when she was in the front row, attacking on the second ball, putting those second balls over," Duncan said. "She had double-digit kills from just setting that second ball over in that front row in multiple matches.
"The interesting thing about Alyssa is that she asks a lot of questions, she asks for critiques about what she's doing and what she's doing wrong. She doesn't have the personality that thinks she knows she's perfect. She wants to get better."
In addition, Kvarta became a multifaceted server. She can send her top spin or overhand float from the right or left side of the back line, taking out opportunities that a defense has to try to slow her down.
All of the numbers are secondary to Kvarta. Ask her what she remembers most about the season, where she played her best game, and the words "I" and "me" are nowhere in her answer.
"Against LaPorte in the sectionals, the whole team played so hard, and we wanted that so bad," Kvarta said. "The love we have for each other, that's how we won sectionals."
After scaling the 21-year-old wall with a sectional trophy -- especially after losses in Kvarta's freshman and sophomore years in five games by two points -- there's a hunger for more. She was one of four Crown Point players named to the all-star team, with seniors Courtney Covaciu, Meagan Fajaman and Abby Kvachkoff on the Class 3A/4A North team as Kvarta was on the North Junior squad.
"I would like to continue our streak on sectionals and eventually make it to regionals my senior year -- that's really weird to say, senior year," Kvarta said. "Now we're just focusing on the team and trying to win conference, and after that we're going to roll into sectionals with that same feeling we had this year."
That she'll be an asset to the Bulldogs for another season gives Duncan a chance to learn how Kvarta molds as a leader.
"Alyssa is not the freshman that came in and never got better. She got better every year, and this is what she's been able to accomplish because of a lot of hard work, a lot of desire and drive and that wantingness to take that next step," Duncan said. "Next year, my hopes for her are to be that senior role model that every other kid in our program can look up to and have her not just physically lead the team but in many capacities mentally and emotionally lead the team."