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Optimism surrounds Thompson Warriors volleyball team heading into season

Expectations are high for Thompson Warriors girls’ volleyball coach Judy Green as she prepares for her third season at the helm of the program. Green calls this year’ group, “the most athletic team that’s ever played volleyball at Thompson High School, from player one to player 15.”

Green then elaborated on what she meant when describing her team in that fashion.

“We are fast, we jump extremely well, which are two things you really need to play the game of volleyball,” Green said. “This team, also, possesses a good amount of skill. They have a good skill set to go with their athleticism and their speed. I think, if you can combine those two things, you got a chance to be really good, if you stay disciplined and you master the fundamentals.”

Hard work is still the focus as the season opener nears for Green’s varsity team. But, it was the work in the spring and summer, which leads to the optimism.

“I think we’re just now starting to see that the hard work of changing the culture and mindset that showed up this summer,” Green said. “We started to see the change in the weight room, the conditioning program and small group training in the spring. They’ve carried that through the whole summer. It was the most committed summer that we’ve had, that’s from all the players.”

Green points to several areas of strength for her team, at this point. At the forefront is a trio of outside hitters -- Makayla Touhey, Kolbi Reed and Jaila Williams -- who have emerged as leading contributors on the court. Reed is a transfer from Briarwood Christian. Williams is a two-year varsity player, who played other positions before finding where she fit best.

“The only way you’re going to win at a high level and compete for a state championship is you have outside hitters who can terminate the ball,” Green said. “And, then, you have to have the serving and passing skills to support them. Last year, we really struggled from left side. We could not, for the life of us, put the ball away on the left. Now we can and we can put it away with some heat on it. That’s probably the greatest growth that I’ve seen.”

Strength in the middle is also a plus for the Warriors with juniors Kiara Booker, D’Shaundra Brown and Diamond Gilliland. Green said the middle blockers are “definitely the most physical and athletic group we have,” and added that their “blocking is ahead of their offensive skill right now.”

Junior libero Madison Wright has the ability to be one of the state’s top players at her position, according to Green. The speedy Wright is also a top notch track athlete.

Team leaders haven’t been fully identified but Green said the senior class of Jenni Beth Cox, Molly Grice, Katie Carnes and Jacqueline Tubbs provide an anchor for the team.

“All four of them are absolutely incredible people,” Green said. “They have good character, they do the right thing, you never have to worry if they are going to perform academically. They are a solid group.”

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