Courtney Peterson wasn't always at one with the sport of volleyball. In fact, the Jamestown High School senior is able to recall being rather stubborn over the subject.
"I hated volleyball as a kid," admitted Peterson, who shattered Jamestown High's all-time kills record this past season. "I didn't want to go out but my mom made me go to practice one day.
"One practice in, I was in love."
Peterson surpassed Jenny Gackle as the Blue Jays' career leader in kills with 1,476. Gackle's mark of 1,269 kills had stood since 1999, and it's possible the streak could've lived on had it not been for current President of University of Jamestown-and, Courtney's mom-Dr. Polly Peterson.
"Ever since that first practice, something clicked," Peterson said. "From that moment on until now, I've been working on it and getting better. I remember going up and down the block with my mom, working on my approach and trying to get the steps right."
The 5-foot-10 middle hitter found all the right steps her senior season, slamming a career-high 435 kills to the floor and being voted first team all-state in Class A volleyball by the state's coaches for a second straight season. Peterson's season kills tally sits behind only Gackle (580) and Addie Eamon (439) in Blue Jay history.
"I've had the privilege to have such amazing setters in my four years in Megan (Gaffaney) and Kameron (Selvig)," said Peterson, who added she never set out to break any records. "It's kinda cool I get to leave my mark on Jamestown volleyball through that."
Peterson helped lead Jamestown to 21 match victories and a third consecutive trip to the Class A state tournament in 2018. Last week's state tournament in Minot, however, transformed into an enigma of sorts for Jamestown, as it lost in five sets to West Fargo, Fargo Shanley and Bismarck.
Peterson and the Jays orchestrated 37 victories and a runner-up finish at the state tournament in 2017.
"It's really emotional when you literally leave everything out on the court and it doesn't go your way," Peterson said. "At least at the end of the day you can't say, 'That sucks, because I could've gave more.' I think everyone on the team kinda agreed with that, or in their own minds thought they did their best. It doesn't make it any easier, but it's OK."
Peterson posted a team-leading 50 service aces as senior, while also posting 31 blocks and 294 digs. Along with her 1,476 kills, Peterson's career totals read: 621 digs, 140 blocks, 97 aces and 29 assists.
Peterson, who is a main focal point for Blue Jay girls basketball as well, said she plans on pursuing a college volleyball career somewhere next fall. But there's no pressure from mom.
"I have a few (colleges) in mind," Peterson said, "and Jamestown is on my list."
Blue Jay coach Sara Hegerle said Peterson should transition smoothly to the college level, wherever her star Blue Jay should land.
"I think her best years are yet to come, and she's had a lot of good ones so far," Hegerle said. "She will be missed ... and it's the stuff you can't put on paper that I will personally miss the most.
"The good conversations, the funny things she says. She's just a goofball with such a kind soul, and those are the kinds of kids you miss the most."