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MTZ Volleyball eyes to compete in the Apollo

Jocelyn Turner and Maddie Kendall go up for a block in a Mt. Zion volleyball practice.

By BLAKE FAITH
Staff Writer

The Mt. Zion volleyball gears up for its third season under Head coach Traci Dyer-Townsend. This year the goal is to be in the top-half of the Apollo Conference and Coach Dyer-Townsend said that her and her team are excited to be back.

“It’s always exciting,” Coach Dyer-Townsend said. “I feel like by this day, which is day four on Thursday, we’re usually tired and low on energy’s low. We have to really rein it in and this year I feel like every day they have been energetic, enthusiastic, having fun. It’s not like pulling teeth on the fourth day and we had one day where we had kind of a slow start, but we collected it as a group and I saw a lot of people that step up in vocal leadership roles. That’s been fun because it makes my job way more fun when they’re here and they act like they want here and that’s how they’ve been every single day.”

Coach Townsend said that the theme of improvement and for this year’s team is to be smart and gritty.

“We have to be disciplined, because we’re undersized and we don’t have a ton of like hard hitters yet,” Coach Dyer-Towsend said. “Being able to be scrappy, not let the ball hit the floor and then not let mistakes get us down. We have to stay disciplined and focused and we knew that going into the season and we kind of talked about that on the very first day.”

Denver Anderson returns healthy for volleyball season and Coach Dyer-Towsnend believes she’ll be one of her impact players in the attack. Ella Fink and Maddie Kendall will be in the middle and Coach Dyer-Townsend said that due to them being “explosive athletes ,” that they will be helpful. The Braves also return junior hitter Tayetum Flanigan, center Maddie Doolen and add Jocelyn Turner at the net who will help with blocks and Maddie Moore as the new libero.

Doolen has taken over her senior leadership to be present and focused whether at senior workouts or the first day of practice. Her team and individual goal are to get better, win and have fun. Doolen wants her lasting mark on the program to be as a fun leader.

“I want to be remembered as a leader and someone that is fun to be around and strived to make everyone else better and just pushes people,” Doolen said.

Moore took over the libero position that was held by McKenna Crawford. Moore has said it’s been difficult with the transition.

“It’s definitely been difficult,” Moore said. “We have to show up for summer and we have to come and be prepared, but we’ve been playing pretty good teams throughout the season this summer, so we’re doing that. And then it was also nice because McKenna helped me throughout the season last year to prepare me for what I’m about to come to this year.”

Moore’s team goal is to get past regionals this year.

“We’ve definitely worked towards that for a while and I think that this is a really scrappy team,” Moore said. “We’re definitely shorter than the average team, but I think that the team dynamic this year and the chemistry throughout all of it is really good.”

Coach Dyer-Townsend has only two seniors on this team but also a handful of juniors that also bring leadership to this team. She said that her leaders are already starting to bring in the freshmen and sophomores and make them feel acclimated and know that they are needed for this team.

Coach Dyer-Townsend’s overall message to readers and the community is that you are going to see a fun, goofy, passionate and scrappy team this year.

“We are fun, we’re goofy and very passionate,” Coach Dyer-Townsend. “I would say come out and support the lady Braves this year, because it’s gonna be worth your time because we’re going to fight to the very last second of every single match and be that gritty team that might look small from your look test. But we’re gonna have fun and I’ve seen blocks and swings like that are gonna be a momentum game, a big game place and it’s gonna switch momentum to our side.”

The Braves are 1-0, defeating Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond last weekend. This week the Braves will face Unity Christian School and Effingham.

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