MUNCIE — Jenna Knepp could barely breathe with all the excitement around.
Knepp helped Barr-Reeve win its first volleyball state championship and was given the Mental Attitude Award following the 3-1 victory over Lafayette Central Catholic Saturday afternoon in Worthen Arena at Ball State University. Knepp fell to her knees after Barr-Reeve clinched the title and tears flowed for the entire team. Then came the news that she was getting an extra accolade in addition to being part of the first state championship team in Barr-Reeve history.
As she accepted the Mental Attitude Award (Barr-Reeve also gets a $1,000 scholarship), you could hear chants of “Jenna Knepp” beaming from the student section. There have been plenty of great volleyball players to pass through the halls in Montgomery — Hilliary Fox, Kristi Kavanaugh and Knepp’s coach, Amber DeCoursey to name a few, but none ever had a moment as perfect as this one. Few athletes ever get a singular moment of unanimous admiration from their peers and the reaction on her face was one of pure amazement.
True to form, Knepp deflected praise off herself and onto her teammates, coaches and community. The community is what the Vikings and Knepp play for and that was never more evident than over the past month. The shocking death of 2012 Barr-Reeve valedictorian Brandon Wagler in an automobile accident on the morning of Sept. 29 rocked Montgomery. The green bows worn in each girls hair was a tribute to the Wagler family was a testament to closeness of the community.
“This means a lot — I couldn’t have ever done it without my team — they pushed me and I just tried to do my best and our seniors tried to do our best. I’m very thankful for them.”
On and off the court, the Vikings follow Knepp’s lead. In what is the perfection of team sports, Knepp sets up her teammates to score on seemingly every play. She led Barr-Reeve with 36 assists Saturday afternoon, which led to 19 kills from fellow senior Hania Sisco, 10 from junior Tiara Kenney and seven from senior Tracy Graber.