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Moore rules SW Virginia volleyball court

Kevin Mays • Apr 19, 2020 at 2:30 PM

Kim Mathes-Moore does not believe she is the best ever to play high school volleyball in Southwest Virginia.

“I know I’m not,” said Moore, the volleyball coach at Union. “I think that’s crazy. I played with and against some of the best and I’ve coached and coached against some of the best. I know that I’m not better than them.”

Nevertheless, Moore — one of the top players from one of the region’s top high school programs and a Virginia-Wise Hall of Famer — was the top vote-getter in an informal, weeklong social media poll asking fans to select the best all-time volleyball players from far Southwest Virginia.

“It’s just unreal. I’m just humbled. There are just so many great players from this region,” she said.

PASSION FOR THE GAME

While she questions whether she is the best or not, Moore does admit there is probably no one who has more passion for the game than she does.

She has lived her life on several principles and has never forgotten a word of advice she got from a senior volleyball player at Gate City while Moore was a freshman.

“Kerri Beasley inspired me with the way she played,” Moore said. “She always told me and she even wrote it in my yearbook, ‘Never settle for less than you deserve.’ ”

Moore has tried to live her life that way, with an assist from divine intervention.

“God has put me in the right places at the right time with the right people,” Moore said.

Her first love in the world of sports was basketball. Rob Gardner was the JV volleyball coach at Gate City when Moore was a seventh-grader.

“He talked me into coming out to play volleyball,” she recalled. “I went to practice and I fell in love with it.”

From that point, Moore’s emphasis changed from the basketball floor to the volleyball court.

Moore started four years in high school, helping the Lady Blue Devils reach the state semifinals one year and the elite eight the other three years.

She initially committed to play for volleyball powerhouse King but at the last minute decided to go to UVA Wise, then Clinch Valley College and still a fledgling program.

The Cavaliers struggled during Moore’s freshman year. It was a new experience after she had enjoyed so much success in high school.

“I’ve been at the top and I’ve been at the bottom,” Moore said. “In college I had to redefine my purpose. It was a big adjustment for me. You just really have to love it to stay with it.

“Thankfully I was surrounded by some really good people in this game. Coaches, administrators, teammates, athletic directors, players, parents of players, I’ve just had a blessing of people.”

The college became UVA Wise in Moore’s sophomore year. The Cavs continued to struggle but Moore continued to persevere.

Her senior year, under first-year head coach Wayne Leftwich, Moore led the team in assists per game (11.91) and set assists (953). She still holds the school’s career record for attack percentage at .462.

EARLY JUMP ON COACHING

Moore wasted little time jumping into the coaching scene.

During her junior year at UVA Wise, Moore took the position as jayvee coach at J.I. Burton.

“At that time, they were still playing high school volleyball in the winter and they were playing college volleyball in the fall. So that allowed me to coach,” she noted.

While still a senior at UVA Wise, Moore became the head volleyball coach at Appalachia.

“We had some athletes on that team,” Moore recalled.

Among them was Roshana Jackson, who led the Lady Bulldogs to the VHSL Group A championship in basketball and later played basketball at Virginia Tech.

Moore’s coaching talents stood out despite her youth.

In the fall, Leftwich and then-UVA Wise athletic director Ray Spenilla invited Moore to a meeting.

Leftwich, who considered Moore to be a coach on the floor, had recommended the college replace him as the Cavs’ coach for the next season.

“They told me they wanted me to coach the team next year and I about fell over,” Moore said. “(Leftwich) invested a lot and he believed in me and so did Ray.

“It wasn’t a lot of money, but I was going to be a college coach and I was going to be coaching some of my teammates,” Moore said. “The fact that I could step in and coach some of my former teammates, that is a tribute to them. It says a lot more about them it does me.”

Moore coached the Cavs for four seasons, including a historic year in 2004. UVA Wise beat King for the first time in school history and earned a share of the Appalachian Athletic Conference title, along with the program’s first regional bid.

The win over King is a special memory for Moore.

“I wanted it to mean something to other people. To mean something to them as it meant to me,” she said. “I remember when I started at Wise, there was no one in the stands but the parents that could make it there. The night we played King and beat them at Greer Gym, I don’t think you could find an empty seat in the house.”

In 2008, Moore took over as the coach at Powell Valley and then at Union in 2011 upon consolidation.

THE GAME OF LIFE

Moore has won her share of games and titles, also leading her team to back-to-back trips to the state tournament.

“I honestly don’t keep up with those,” Moore said of such numbers.

No, it’s about something bigger.

“Just like Kerri Beasley told me that year to never settle for less than you deserve, that’s what I want these players that I coach to know,” she said. “It’s more than volleyball. I want them to know there’s life after volleyball and high school. I want them to have a sense of purpose.

“I want them to realize they are more precious than rubies and diamonds.”

TOPS ON THE COURT

The other top vote-getters in the informal poll were:

Emili Brooks, Union — The senior entered the record books this past season when she reached 1,819 kills for her career, a VHSL record. Brooks, who has signed to play at UVA Wise, recorded a school-record 583 kills in her final year with the Lady Bears.

Chelsea Spivey, Gate City — Spivey, who played on two state championship teams for the Lady Blue Devils, holds the school record for career aces with 280. She also holds the school and VHSL record for career assists (3,538) and the Gate City record for assists in a season (972). She also totaled a state-record 7,492 sets in her career and holds the school mark of 2,151 sets in a season.

Hayley Wolfe, Gate City — Wolfe was a member of two state championship teams with the Lady Blue Devils and was first-team all-state in 2013, 2014 — when she was the state player of the year — and 2015. She played collegiately at Walters State where she finished with 771 career digs.

Lucindy Lawson, Rye Cove — A member of the Rye Cove Hall of Fame, the four-sport star was the 2015 Cumberland District player of the year and was all-state and all-region her senior year. She recorded a school-record 1,436 digs and holds the school mark of 54 digs in a game. Lawson, recently named the volleyball coach at Wise Central, played softball at UVA Wise.

Sydney McKinney, Union — McKinney was a star in every high school sport she played, but her star shined brightest on the basketball and volleyball courts. McKinney, a senior basketball player at Emory & Henry, finished her volleyball career at Union with 1,515 kills. She also registered 533 kills in one season with the Lady Bears.

THE OTHER STARS

Other notables receiving significant votes were Emily Helms, Gate City; Zoe Brooks, Union; Natasha Viers Overbay, Abingdon; Laura Gipe, J.J. Kelly; Chelsea Woods, John Battle; Kelsey Griffitts, John Battle; Kerri Beasley, Gate City; Hannah Doss, Patrick Henry; Lindsey Lawson, Eastside; Anne Grabner, Rye Cove; Gaily Lapitan, Rye Cove; Doneva Bays, Gate City; Jenna Wade, Union.

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