Sutton, Grall find ‘perfect fit’ for volleyball futures


The Ponte Vedra High School volleyball program has produced its share of college talent over the years and now two more names can be added to the list, as middle blocker Chelsea Sutton signed to the University of Tennessee and outside hitter Ava Grall committed to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

For both players, they found themselves looking back at their playing careers to this point and reminiscing about all the memories and relationships they have developed along the way.

“I think about where I started and all that I’ve been through leading up to this point with all the friends I’ve made and all the coaches I’ve had,” Grall said. “All that support and time that they’ve put in for me has really helped me get to where I’m at.”

What made it even more fitting that both Sutton and Grall were sharing their signing day together was the fact that they have pretty much been teammates since they started playing volleyball competitively.

“I was just looking back and telling her the other day that when we started she was so bad, because she was just like this walking tree,” Grall chuckled. “But you also saw all the potential she had and knew that she was going places. As a teammate I got to see her progress to that D-1 level.”

For Sutton, the opportunity to play at an SEC school is a dream come true and she has known that Tennessee was the place for her.

“I committed last year, so knowing that its finally here now is pretty crazy to think about,” Sutton said. “Everyone told me that I was going to fall in love with the school immediately, and I wasn’t sure if that would happen, but I literally walked on campus and after talking with coaches and players, I just knew that was where I wanted to be.”

Sutton will graduate Ponte Vedra High early and be a spring enrollee at Tennessee, which will allow her to get a head start and get adjusted to college life and the volleyball program.

It was a similar feeling for Grall during the recruiting process, who just felt at home the in her conversations with coaches and the minute she stepped on campus for the first time.

“Gettysburg was the first college I ever called and the first one I visited, so it always had a special place for me,” Grall said. “Then I met the coaches, and I knew it was a perfect fit.”

Sutton has heard that the biggest difference between the college atmosphere compared to high school is that it is very business-like, and she cannot wait to experience that herself.

“We basically just signed contracts today and there’s an expectation from them that you will work hard and give them your very best,” Sutton said. “I’m ready to kick it up to that next level.”

They each recognized how important being part of the Ponte Vedra High girls volleyball program meant to them and how it helped prepare them for the next level.

According to Grall, she feels ready for anything that the college level has in store.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that the ‘real work starts now,’ and it’s really exciting to see what that will be like,” Grall said.