Legacy of winning, family

Sharks’ volleyball seniors translate close bonds into success

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To say that Ponte Vedra volleyball’s current group of seniors wins a lot would be a vast understatement.

The team’s 2021 senior class is made up of five girls, Kendall Mignerey, Ava Witt, Jackie Jewett, Rachel Johnson and Reed Mann, each a key component to the team’s success and executes her role on a consistent basis.

Together the group entered the postseason with an astounding record of 98-8 over the last four years, one at the junior varsity level and the past three on the varsity squad. They ended the regular season with a record of 22-1.

“We’re always laughing, especially at practice, and always in typically good spirits no matter how it’s going,” Jewett said. “It’s really difficult to break our chemistry.”

During that time, they strung together a 51-match winning streak and look to end their senior seasons on the right note by winning their third state title in a row.

“It’s been a crazy ride and there’s been a lot of pressure because of that,” Johnson said. “I think this team has really just continued to rise to the challenge. It’s just such a great group of girls.”

Many of the seniors talked about the pressure of sustaining their current run of success, but the common theme was how they relied on each other to get through the adversity they’ve faced and the target that comes with being the defending state champion.

“It makes us even more thankful and grateful for the opportunity,” Mignerey said. “The games that are super tight and intense against a team that’s just as good, if not better than you, is when you really challenge yourself. Those are my favorites, and it creates some great memories fighting it out on the court with my teammates.”

The bond the team shares is fun to watch because not only is it on display with the performance on the court and the way they move the ball with fluidity, but also in the interaction they share with each other on the sideline and off the court.

“A lot of us started playing volleyball together when we were like eight (years old), so we had already built a lot of those relationships and really grew up together through volleyball,” Johnson said.

Many of the girls had older sisters play on the team, and head coach Robin Mignerey coaches her daughter. All of that has fed into the family atmosphere established in her 13 seasons at the helm.

“It’s fun, and I’m very happy to have my mom as a coach,” Mignerey said. “There’s pressure, but it also pushes me because she knows what I’m capable of and the expectations that have been set.”

For the Mignerey family, conversations pertaining to volleyball are not uncommon at the dinner table, especially since her dad and sister both played as well.

“We’re just a big volleyball family,” Mignerey said.

According to Ava Witt, she has spent time looking back at all the great memories she has had with her teammates over the years, and she has trouble believing all that they have accomplished as well.

“To grow up with them and then accomplish so much is just the best,” Witt said. “I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else.”

One of the things she cherishes most been looking back is the various road trips the team went on.

“They always seem to bring us a lot closer,” Witt said. “The car rides and the hotel stays, those are always so much fun.”

One of those road trips included winning the Nike Tournament of Champions in Orlando in September, where some of the best volleyball programs in the country were competed.

“That was amazing, because there was so much energy and it was so hyped,” Jewett said. “We knew that we could do it and we did. It was so surreal, and really made us feel unstoppable as a group.”

Mann has been playing with many of her teammates not only in school but also on the club league scene.

As a result, she has played a lot of volleyball over the years and really seen her game develop during that time.

“School volleyball allows everyone to play different positions from what they’re necessarily used to playing in club, so I’ve learned so much about every position on the court and so have all my teammates,” Mann said. “They care just as much about team building as they do about good play, so that really helps.”

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