Without any push from head coach Lisa Bates or anyone else, Smith decided to set up cinder blocks in her yard at home and jump over them 20 times a day during the off-season.
While that certainly didn't hurt her chances of earning a starting spot this season, there's something else Bates said helped improve Smith's game: her competitiveness.
Smith's desire and drive helped Sand Rock (35-13) capture another Cherokee County championship, an area championship and a return to the state tournament. She posted 430 kills, 426 digs, 95 blocks, 64 aces and 27 assists for the 2012 season, helping Smith earn the Cherokee County's coaches selection as their All-County Most Valuable Player.
"I was kind of surprised at first when (Bates) told me, but then I was really excited," Smith said. "I've worked really hard to get that. I had to get to where my teammates trusted me with the ball and just show what I could do with it. I had to prove to them I could put it down and get kills. I just went out there and hustled after every ball, did whatever I could to get to the ball."
Bates said Smith was the catalyst for the Lady Wildcats' success in 2012.
"There were a lot of achievements for this team, and a big part of that was due to how much she improved from last year to this year," Bates said. "Last year, she was fighting just to get playing time. This year, she's our team leader. She led us in kills, digs and blocks. She made a huge difference in our success this year, and it's from how much improvement she's made."
Bates said she didn't realize how valuable Smith was to the team until she wasn't on the court for a play date at Gadsden State last summer.
"We played without her and we were terrible," Bates said. "I came home in tears because I thought we were going to be so bad. Just the chemistry of having her on the floor with everybody else when she got to come back, it just made us so much better. It wasn't because of anybody who took her spot. She just had that effect on us. She worked hard during the spring and summer and got tons better. I think she was really a key to us succeeding."
Bates said Smith isn't a vocal leader. Instead, she chooses to let her versatile play on the court set an example for her teammates.
"She plays middle, but she's not just a middle hitter or a middle blocker. She's key for us on the back row too," Bates said. "She really has a deceptive quickness to get to balls."
And Smith is tough, too.
Bates said Smith was playing with two sprained ankles near season's end, but she didn't let that stop her from making an impact on the court.
"The last two weeks she had both her ankles in ice. I've never had somebody like that," Bate said. "I think it was after area tournament where she turned her ankle really badly. When we got to regionals, she was trying to play on that hurt ankle, and then turned the other one. She toughed it out and played the rest of the season and at state."
Smith is the latest in a line of Sand Rock volleyball players to be selected All-County MVP. With her just being a junior, Smith hopes to add to the Sand Rock tradition of being a back-to-back county MVP.
"This year, I felt like I stepped up, but next year I hope I can get better," Smith said. "Maybe I can still improve and help inspire other people to get better."
Joining Smith from Sand Rock on the All-County team is senior outside hitters Amber Ashley and Kelsey Hayes, along with sophomore setter Ashley Norris.
Ashley accumulated 466 kills, 308 digs, 36 blocks, 21 aces and nine assists last season. Hayes had 394 digs, 183 kills, 71 aces, 17 blocks and 12 assists. Norris finished with 1,092 assists, 136 digs, 28 aces, 15 kills and a block.
Class 1A North Regional Tournament participants Cedar Bluff (30-19) and Spring Garden (30-19) both had three selections on the All-County team.
Lady Tiger senior middle hitter Audrianna Hargitt, a Gadsden State Community College commitment, posted 578 kills, 523 digs, 86 blocks, 73 aces and 32 assists.
Joining Hargitt from Cedar Bluff is senior outside hitter Hannah Leach and senior Brooke Wood. Leach contributed 427 kills, 377 digs, 74 aces, 40 assists and 16 blocks. Wood finished with 357 assists, 18 kills, 83 digs, 23 blocks and 22 aces.
Junior middle hitter Haley Motes, junior setter Darby Bryant and freshman outside hitter Madison Sides represent Spring Garden. Final stats from Spring Garden were unavailable.
The Cherokee County Lady Warriors (15-23) are represented by junior outside hitter Kayle Moon and junior back row player Jessen Burk.
Moon managed 195 kills, 70 digs and 13 blocks last season, while Burk finished with 319 digs and 23 aces.
Junior setter Hannah Van Pelt represents Gaylesville. Van Pelt posted 298 assists, 232 digs, 26 aces, 13 kills and three blocks last season for the Lady Trojans (6-24).