John Marshall Confident For Tourney
Monarchs look to avenge early exit last season
MOUNDSVILLE–Confidence at John Marshall is at an all-time high for its volleyball team.
The Monarchs are preparing for back-to-back trips to the state tournament in Charleston with hopes of bringing home its first state championship in school history.
Last year was an early exit in the quarterfinals for John Marshall, but assistant coach Katie Williams believes the team has grown a lot since its loss to Musselman.
“The confidence level is much greater this year,” Williams said. “The team bonding and teamwork is amazing. We have such a good group that is so athletic, smart and competitive. They want to win at everything.”
A trio of Monarchs have made a strong impact this season as senior Maddy Mayle was named the OVAC 5A Player of the Year and the Two Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year, while senior Lauren Garcia and junior Lydia Knutsen were named to the All-OVAC and All-TRAC first teams.
The Monarchs already secured the school’s first regional championship with a four-set victory over Morgantown a week ago, thanks to several dominating performances.
Mayle garnered 19 kills in the win, Garcia accumulated 30 assists, Knutsen turned in 12 digs and junior Emily Harr supplied 16 kills.
Mayle and Harr have been terrifying the opposition all season up front with their aggressiveness at the net, while Garcia has the ability to set her teammates up and put them in a position to succeed and Knutsen has been brilliant at libero for John Marshall (31-6).
All of these standouts were part of the 2016 state qualifiers but this year’s squad received an addition to the team.
Sydney Zimla, a junior who played for Bishop Donahue a season ago, has been a huge part of the Monarchs’ success and is ready for the big stage.
“Zimla has been a great asset to our hitting,” Williams said. “It was a hard transition for her at first but the girls welcomed her right away and she fit right in. It was like she was here all along.”
The 2017 schedule has been a true challenge for the Monarchs, who have competed in nine matches against a state tournament qualifier. In those matchups, John Marshall has delivered a 6-3 record with four wins coming against Morgantown, a win against Williamstown, a 1-1 showing against Shady Spring and a loss to both Tyler Consolidated and St. Albans.
“They have to be confident in themselves and their abilities,” Williams said. “We made it this far with a stronger schedule than last year. We have played in more tournaments and we have had some overnight stays, so none of this is new to us.
“As long as they work together, cooperate, and believe in themselves, they are good to go. We aren’t going to do anything different or try to reinvent the wheel.”
In the AAA bracket, John Marshall is joined by last year’s champion Mussleman, along with St. Albans, Spring Valley, Morgantown, George Washington and Hedgesville, while its first opponent will be the talented group from Hurricane.
The Redskins are led by Brianna Washburn who has garnered 593 kills, 174 blocks and a .602 hitting percentage, while Kiersten Landers has produced 403 kills and 173 blocks.
Madison Chadwell leads the team in assists with 1,317, while gathering 425 digs. Carllee Bishop leads the digs category with 609.
“We haven’t seen Hurricane all season,” Williams said. “But that doesn’t matter. We will just adjust, defend the best that we can and just play our game.
“We have heard a lot of hype about their players but I told the girls that we are regional champions and we are just as good.”