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Eastfield’s dynamic duo play in flawless season

Rory Moore
Azoria Davis (elft) and Ava Cole (right) hang out after beating Richland.

After dropping a mere four sets the whole season, Eastfield celebrated its 29th consecutive win Tuesday, Oct. 24 to finish with an undefeated record. They defeated the Thunderducks in three sets with scores 25-13, 25-8 and 25-10.

The Harvester Bees were led this season in part by Ava Cole and Azoria Davis.

Boasting four Dallas Athletic Conference defensive player of the week awards, Cole is the team’s iron wall on defense and leads with 354 digs.

Davis is at the helm offensively, netting 248 kills and 403 receptions and is second to Cole with 275 digs. She’s won the DAC offensive player award three times this season.

“They’re kind of those quiet leader-type people. They don’t say a lot, but they do all the speaking with their game,” head coach Phil Nickel said. “They’ve been a crucial part of our success, and we’re super happy that they’re here.”

Both players developed an interest in volleyball early on. After trying a handful of activities, such as taekwondo, and not finding one that stuck, Cole started volleyball in the third grade and quickly became invested. Davis’ love of the game developed before she even started school.

“My dad was a trainer, so he trained a lot of volleyball players, and we would go to a bunch of his clients’ games,” Davis said. “So I would say I just kind of grew up around volleyball.”

While having a father in the industry can be helpful, sometimes he’s her biggest critic.

“People don’t understand what it’s like having a dad as a coach and a trainer,” Davis said. “It’s a good thing, but it’s also a lot of pressure because I get criticisms from him and my coach and from everybody else.”

While Cole enjoys the competitive aspect of volleyball, both players seemed to be on the same page as to what they enjoy most about the sport.

“I think my favorite part is the competition,” Cole said. “Also just growing relationships with people because it’s really helped me. I’m very shy and very closed off, so when I play volleyball I have to open up on the court. I have to talk to people. It helped me grow my relationships with people and be more outspoken.”

Davis agreed, noting her bond with her teammates and coach. 

“I met the best people in my life because of volleyball, and I’m grateful for that,” Davis said.

On the court, Cole believes that her positive outlook is what puts her a level above everyone else.

“I know a lot of people get in their heads a lot,” Cole said. “I just try to keep the mindset [that] your sport doesn’t define you. You can have a bad game, you can have bad plays, but at the end of the day you’re doing this for fun. You’re doing it because you want to. A bad play or a bad game isn’t gonna be the end of the world.”

Meanwhile, Davis relies on her consistency for results.

“I have the same energy 24/7,” Davis said. “I hate being negative.”

Cole recognizes and appreciates this trait in her teammate. 

“I enjoy playing with Azoria because on the court she’s very positive, and that’s what I do best with,” she said. “If I make a bad play, she’s like, ‘You got the next one.’”

To Davis, the feeling is mutual.

“If I mess up I know she’s there to pick me up, and if she messes up, I know that I’m going to be there to pick her up,” Davis said. “I love Ava. She’s a great libero.”

As for finding their way to Eastfield, Cole played in high school with one of the coaches’ daughters and her father used to play baseball for the Harvester Bees. Davis was led here by her studies.

“It had my degree, fashion marketing, which is very hard to find around here,” Davis said. “And also I love the area. It’s not far from Dallas, and I’m a city girl.”

Both players plan on returning next year.

“Just because we’re good,” Davis said. “I don’t want to transfer to another [college]. I know we’re set”

After securing the No. 1 seed in NJCAA Division III volleyball, the team is preparing for its next big challenge.

“I’ve never been to nationals,” Davis said. “This is honestly a dream. That’s everyone’s dream as a volleyball player.”

Eastfield will host the NJCAA Division III South District Tournament next week from Wednesday through Saturday. The Harvester Bees play in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 27.

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