GW’s Wyner repeats as volleyball POY

CHARLESTON — The joy of a won point is obvious on Tessa Wyner’s face in any photo taken of the George Washington senior volleyball player — a beaming smile, fist pump or leap for joy frozen in time. And they’re not always about the points she has won for the Patriots, though she has won many. Any teammate’s kill, block or ace elicits the same delight.

“Other sports are team sports, too, but volleyball in particular kind of forces you to have faith in your team,” Wyner said. “We’re constantly relying on each other, so I love that it’s a team sport and that your team becomes your family, which is super-special.”

Wyner, who will play volleyball at Virginia Tech next year, has won her second straight West Virginia Sports Writers Association Player of the Year honor.

This season, Wyner recorded 530 kills, 82 aces, 268 digs, and 173 total blocks (107 solo), to go with a .390 hitting efficiency rate. The Patriots went 58-2-3 this season, falling in the Class AAA state quarterfinals to Hedgesville. Wyner made her third-straight Class AAA All-State first team this year, and was named the first-team captain for the second straight year.

Yet the middle hitter knows that her individual accolades would not be possible without the help of her teammates.

“I can’t tell you how much I love this team, especially this past year,” she said. “We were all so selfless and we wanted … whoever was going to touch the ball next and put it down, we wanted that for them. It was all about the team, not the individual person.”

When it comes to the individual aspects of the game, she always has enjoyed how she can constantly challenge herself, that there is always room for improvement, even with Olympians. She also has appreciated the coaches in her life who never have accepted mediocrity.

Above her prolific statistics, Wyner’s leadership has helped her stand out, GW coach Missy Smith said. Wyner constantly talks on the court, whether it’s directing traffic during play or congratulating or lifting up a teammate.

And, Smith said, that leadership doesn’t end on the court.

“She’s not just limited to her volleyball,” Smith said. “The things she’s done off the court and the experience she has brought to our girls off the court have been just as important, if not more important than the volleyball player she’s become and helped other girls become.”

Some of that leadership comes from her service to others. Two years ago, she organized a sock drive for a local men’s shelter. Last year, she started a clothing drive for those affected by the floods in Elkview and Clendenin. This year, she put together a coat drive.

Wyner wants to lead by example in her service to others, a belief rooted in her Christian faith. That service could be large, like a clothing drive, or small, like setting up a net for a teammate or lending a knee pad to a player who forgot hers.

“That’s really what leading is,” Wyner said. “It’s not by putting yourself first. It’s about being humble and going last. It’s by trying to put others around you first and forgetting about yourself. Leaders aren’t supposed to be at the top of a pyramid. They’re supposed to be at the bottom of it.”

Wyner will be recognized at the annual Victory Awards Dinner, sponsored by the WVSWA, on May 6 in Charleston. The award is sponsored by MetroNews.