Shelby Maupin sat on the sofa inside the hospitality room of the Mabee Sports Complex at Hannibal-LaGrange University, chuckling as her younger sister Claire tried to get in.
After a few seconds, Shelby got up to allow her sister in through the locked door. Claire was somewhat annoyed, but quickly the two shared a laugh.
The moment was a snapshot of their everyday relationship, both on the volleyball court and off.
The sisters, who have grown into leaders for the Lady Trojans volleyball team, are thankful they get to share these moments together.
Up until last fall, the St. Peters, Mo., natives had never played on the same team.
“We practiced against each other in high school with varsity and JV, but never on the court together during a match,” Shelby said. “We played against each other once during club volleyball and I did not like that. It wasn’t any fun.
“So finally being able to play on the same team is fun, and it has brought us even closer together.”
It almost didn’t happen.
The younger Maupin admitted HLGU was not her top choice, even with Shelby there.
“It wasn’t my first choice,” Claire said. “I had a couple other places in mind but found out they already had setters brought in for my class. But I am glad it worked out.”
Shelby was ecstatic when she first heard the news.
“I was super excited because I have always wanted to be able to play on the same team as her,” the senior said. “And I am also excited to be able to see her grow as a person and player right here with her. We have always been close and best friends, but being able to do so in college is just different. I love it.”
Shelby admitted she didn’t try to recruit her younger sister too heavily, however.
“I really wanted to make sure she was where God wanted her to be,” the elder Maupin said. “I didn’t want to sway her here for the wrong reasons. I didn’t want her to say no but also didn’t want her here if it wasn’t the right place.”
On the court, the Trojans break every huddle by saying “family.” HLGU head coach Kyle Smith said it’s a true blessing to see the literal family bond Shelby and Claire share everyday.
“They show us a great example of what family is all about,” the first-year HLGU coach said. “That family element is not only important to our team, but also our department and our entire university. When you come to HLGU you are part of a family and are taken care of. So it is great to literally have family on the team we all can experience this with.”
The two mentioned some teammates can’t believe how close they are together and how well they get along.
“A lot of people tell me if they had a sister on the team they would kill one another,” Claire joked. “We are not mean to each other at all.”
Said Shelby, “It’s really just a huge blessing. It’s really awesome God has given us so much time together, a solid relationship and friendship.”
That bond also has helped the two become better players on the court.
Shelby is the main attacker in the Trojans 5-1 offense. Claire runs the offense as the setter.
“She makes me want to work harder,” Shelby said. “Not just to be a better player than her, but I want to be a better player to make her look better. As a hitter, you always want to do good to make your setter look good, but even moreso when your setter is your sister.”
Claire mentioned sometimes she wonders if people think she plays favoritism toward her big sister.
“They may think I am calling more plays for her because she is my sister, but she really just does a good job of putting them (hits) away,” the sophomore said. “So it’s not like I am setting her all the time and she is missing.”
Through eight games this season, Shelby has 61 kills and Claire has handed out 146 assists.
Being the older sister, Shelby admitted having Claire run the offense has been a bit different.
“She calls the shots now (on the court),” Shelby said. “Not saying I normally do, but it’s just a little different.”
Claire quickly chimed in.
“Yeah, she does,” the sophomore said of Shelby off the court.
As much fun as the sisters are having, they both know the time together is nearing an end — at least together on the court.
Neither are happy about it.
“I don’t want to think about it,” Shelby said.
“It’s really sad,” Claire added. "It’s not like I don’t like the other girls on the team, but it will just be different. I don’t want the season to end.”