There are a couple of new components in the mix for Matoaca girls’ volleyball this season, one a coach and the other a setter. The Warriors are betting that those two ingredients could be the missing ones to ensure better playoff success in 2016.
Both coach Tiara Boyd and setter Makenzy Johnson have come in and made impacts early, as the Warriors have gotten off to a 6-0 start and have their eyes set on a deep postseason run, knocking off traditionally strong north-of-the-river opponents.
“Coach Boyd is a new coach, and she’s always open to new ideas and new drills that we bring in from travel practices,” Johnson explained. “She helps to strengthen our weaknesses and encourage our strengths on the court.”
Boyd was the JV coach for Matoaca last season and was promoted into the opening. She’s a 2009 graduate of Park View and a 2013 graduate of Virginia State. As a player, he guided her team to state in 2009 and won player of the year honors. She inherited a talented roster that gained a leader in Johnson.
“Makenzy is a great all-around player,” said sophomore hitter Lindsey Temple. “She always keeps the team together, and having her on the team is a huge asset.”
Coach Boyd echoed that sentiment.
“She’s just a great all-around player,” Boyd said. “If I didn’t have her setting, she’d be passing. She helps us with where to put the ball, and she’s helped everyone else develop. She’s like the quarterback or point guard of the team.”
Johnson will mentor two sophomore hitters that have already gotten some attention for their play on the court, and will eventually garner college interest in the sport. Both Temple and Lani Mason have been key components to Matoaca’s success.
Mason and Temple are both well-rounded players with a penchant for offense. Mason is a fierce offensive player who elevates easily to put the ball down. With Temple, the Warriors have the same type of attacker that knows where to hit the ball. The team communicates well together, especially the aforementioned ones. They’ve already developed a strong chemistry.
“The moment I stepped foot on the court with these girls, I felt right at home,” Johnson said. “It was a kind of experience that I’ve never been in before. We have all so much to contribute and I think that makes the bond stronger.”
“Everyone is so sweet to each other and that has such a positive impact on the team,” Mason said. “It does us well on and off the court.”
Boyd has found several other key contributors on the roster and feels she has a deep bench that will allow her team to compete with the perennial powers.
Senior Alexis Farr is a staunch defensive player who spends her time in the middle blocking balls for Matoaca. Boyd said that if her offense develops as her defense has, and she’s able to put the ball down, it has the capability to change the team. Another returning senior, Avery Munden, was commended by her coach for her growth since last season, specifically hitting and back row defense. Junior Jordan Morris has been a valuable rotation player on the front lines for both offense and defense.
As far as making a mark for Matoaca in attempting to overtake other Chesterfield County teams, Boyd said the girls are coming along nicely.
The Warriors will continue those preparations with a match against Meadowbrook Thursday before a showdown with Cosby Sept. 28.
“We have the attitude to get it done,” explained Boyd. “We’re working towards playing that highest level of competition, we’ve been preparing for this for a while.”