by Kim Cameron
The West Grand varsity claimed their first victory of the season over the North Park Wildcats on Tuesday, August 21 in Walden.
The Lady Mustangs and the North Park Wildcats faced off in five games. The first game went to West Grand 25-18, the second went to North Park 26-24, and the next game West Grand fell to North Park 25-18. The next two sets went to West Grand 25-20 and 15-12.
New head coach Taralee Williams commented on her small team of 16 players, “I am very excited about how things are going.” She says of her team’s cohesiveness and willingness to try new positions.
“The girls played very well and showed a lot of mental toughness, coming back from a two match loss. I am very proud of how they did not give up and worked hard to win the match.”
Among those receiving recognition were seniors – Anna Douglass, Morgan Jones and Gina Manguso.
Highlighting Douglass, Williams said, “Anna is setting this year and has never done that before.” Coach Williams continued her praise of Anna noting her team leadership, kindness and strong work ethic. “I have coached for ten years and Anna stands out. She is just all-around awesome. She spent her summer in the weight room, practiced and went to summer camp. She is everything you need.” During Tuesday’s game, Douglass had 15 kills, 9 aces, 7 blocks and 14 assists.
Williams also praised Jones and Manguso for their positive leadership. She noted Jones, who currently has a bulging disc, is currently attending practices and serving in an assistant role.
Also noteworthy were performances from varsity starters, freshmen Alex Schake and Maddy Probst who stepped up as hitters. On junior varsity, Schake and Probst are setters. During their varsity play, Schake registered 6 kills and 2 blocks, and Probst had 2 kills and 5 blocks.
Returning sophomore, Josy Wheatley, who was a libero last year, was needed to hit and set this year and worked hard to fill the team’s void. Coach Williams said, “She really has some natural volleyball skill that is really hard to come by. We are very thankful for her.” Wheatley had 4 aces and 12 digs.
Junior Emma DeSanti is also a returning varsity player. “Emma remains even-headed under pressure and has been a great team leader who serves as a role model to others. She pushes the team to work hard and remains positive,” acknowledged Coach Williams. DeSanti had 19 assists, 10 kills and 9 blocks. Other strong players in North Park’s game were – Iliana Castillo with 5 kills and 3 digs, and Audree Miller with 1 ace.
Junior varsity’s start to the season was a little rougher. They lost in three games.
Coach Williams and Assistant Coach Morgan Ritschard say they will push the girls to be multi-sport athletes this year and will encourage them to play basketball and go out for track even if they are participating in club volleyball.