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Northside Christian School Mustangs
Changes in coaching staff, a tougher district, and only 4 players with solid varsity experience — many volleyball teams would chalk it up as a “rebuilding season.” However, that is not the attitude of this month’s Joto’s Top Team, the Northside Varsity Volleyball Team. Instead, the Mustangs are building a winning season, and they are having great fun in the process.
Early in the season, Head Coach Kim Davies and Assistant Coach Brittany Beard met with the team’s three seniors, Sara Massengill, Chelsea Craft, and Lindsey Tozour, to discuss 3 fundamental team objectives: work hard, play hard, have fun! The Mustangs have been implementing all three, and their strategy is working. With a record of 6 wins and 3 losses, they are on pace to exceed Davies’s preseason expectation “to finish above .500.”
Northside’s team is noticeably smaller this year after graduating Division I USF recruit Kayla Walton in 2009 and Division I Winthrop recruit Jennica Mullins in 2010. The team also graduated 3 seniors last year. Without these former players, the 9 members of this year’s team are facing some new challenges.
Davies isn’t worried, though. Although this is her first year as Northside’s varsity volleyball coach, she has coached the Northside JV team for the last 4 years. She knows the players well, and she likes what she sees.
True to their team goal, the Mustangs work hard, and they improve with every match. Their hard work paid off early in the season with an impressive 3rd place finish in the highly competitive Academy of the Holy Names Tournament.
Playing hard is the key to the Mustangs’ success. “We fight for every point and don’t give up,” says freshman Hannah Artille. The Mustangs certainly didn’t give up during their preseason match against a tough Seminole High School team. Both teams fought hard in a match that lasted more than 2 hours. Finally, in the 5th game, the Mustangs prevailed. Davies attributes the Mustangs’ victory to their mental toughness and overall excellent play.
Davies describes her team as “smart players [who] play hard.” One such player is Lindsey Tozour, a setter who can “get to balls most girls her age would give up on,” says Davies. Lindsey also controls the offense and leads the team in service points.
Senior leadership also comes from Chelsea Craft (a 6-foot-tall middle hitter and outstanding blocker) and Sarah Masssengill (an outside hitter who leads the team in kills and digs).
The Mustangs are focused on working and playing hard, but they also love to have fun as a team, according to juniors Kate Clendening and Kayla Church. Does the high-spirited, fun atmosphere of this team actually contribute to their success? Absolutely. Freshman Megan Tozour explains, “We get excited a lot, which helps us play better.”
It also helps that the players are all friends, says Hannah Artille. Chelsea Craft agrees: “I feel like we are a family, and the closeness we share has really contributed to our great success thus far.”
The Mustangs truly function as a family: a close-knit team that works together, encourages each other, has fun together, and – more often than not – wins together.
The Northside Christian Mustangs look forward to hosting the 4th Annual Mustang Invitational, a tournament including at least 8 teams from around the state, on October 14-15, 2011. As for the future, Davies expects the Mustangs “to make a run for the district title again within the next two years.” If they continue to work hard, play hard, and have fun, the Mustangs stand an excellent chance to reach that goal.
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