It takes six players to make a volleyball team, and that’s all Savian Jordan’s club team had going into the AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando this past June. A teammate had come down with mono, so player after player backed out of the trip until there was only Jordan and four others left. A sixth had to be found from another state.
For a week of games, Jordan and her five teammates were forced to play every single point and position on the court in every single match.
“It’s not like there’s somebody you can depend on the sideline,” Jordan said. “There were only six of us. You had to go all out.”
Jordan was well-suited to the challenge. There is no other way for the South Forsyth rising senior defensive specialist, whose full vitality came into its potential last season during the Lady War Eagles’ historical run to the Class 6A state championship match, the first ever by a Forsyth County team in the Georgia High School Association.
Jordan had 323 digs and 45 aces for South, helping to anchor the Lady War Eagles’ defense. But more noticeable were her speeches before many of the team’s biggest matches, particularly in the state playoffs.
Encircled by teammates, Jordan would march around the middle yelling, waving her arms, stoking her teammates into a combustible force.
It’s not about talent, it’s about heart!
You’ve got to go out there, and you’ve got to take it!
They’re not going to give you anything!
You’ve got to shut them up, and win!
Jordan says it comes from the deepest source.
“My heart and soul,” Jordan said.
And an ancestry that is infused with excellence. Her grandfather played in the NFL. She has an uncle who did too. But the closest example for Jordan is her father, Richard, who also played in the NFL from 1997-2002 for the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs despite playing in relative anonymity in college at Missouri Southern State University, a small Division II school in Joplin, Missouri.
Jordan began to find that same spirit in herself growing up playing softball and track in Michigan, but a sixth grade middle school gym class gave her a fortuitous introduction to volleyball. Her natural athleticism helped her get to the erratic hits and passes by young beginners, and her interested was piqued.
At 12, she joined the nearest club volleyball team. It was full of 16-year-olds. When she moved to Forsyth County the summer before seventh grade, she joined the A5 Volleyball Club and again played above her age group.
Jordan made the varsity team as a freshman and began to get playing time before she tearing her anterior cruciate ligament. She missed the rest of the high school season and the following club season, enduring almost a year of rehabilitation. Jordan said her confidence didn’t fully return until the middle of her sophomore season.
But, in the interim, Jordan made a crucial discovery.
“I was like, ‘I miss this. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do without volleyball. I’m not Savian without volleyball,’” Jordan said.
Jordan has been brought up around achievement. Many of her relatives are (or were) talented athletes. Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders comes to her birthday parties (“Uncle Barry,” Jordan says). Excellence has surrounded her; it has been the underlying ethos of her life.
“Everybody has high expectations,” Jordan said. “… [My dad] says you should always have something to shoot for.”
With all but one starter returning from the team that lost to powerhouse Walton in the state championship last season, Jordan and South’s goal is clear, and she is working this summer accordingly.
June was spent with her A5 Volleyball Club team. July will be filled with South team camps at Harrison, Johns Creek, Kennesaw State and Auburn University. Jordan will attend other camps at the University of Memphis and the University of West Georgia on her own to get more exposure to college coaches; she already has offers from Georgia College and State University and Auburn.
This past Friday, Jordan was at the Southern Volleyball Center in Alpharetta, a warehouse-like building with five volleyball courts. Jordan and a dozen other volleyball players did yoga for an hour, straining and sweating as they contorted in silence.
Through the tough moments of it all, Jordan focuses on one thing.
“Region champs. State champs,” Jordan said. “That’s all I see.”