The Northwest girls’ volleyball team, currently ranked sixth in the state with a record of 19-1, was named conference champions on Wednesday. This victory was no easy feat, though. The team has practiced tirelessly since August, bringing a new intensity and motive into this season.
“I think that not having Grace Johnson, who was definitely our leader in energy last year, has made all of us step up to support each other,” junior and right-side hitter Amelia Hammond said.
The girls knew losing one of their main energy sources would drastically affect the team dynamic, meaning they would have to change their approach to the game of volleyball.
“We’ve really been working on our mental aspect of the game this season,” said Sarah Barham, a senior middle-blocker. “It’s helped us prepare for the conference tournament.”
Shifting their focus from physical to mental talent, the team has emphasized the importance of teamwork, perseverance and body language since the beginning of the season. On the first day of practice, coach Nancy Everett tasked the girls with reading The Confident Athlete by Tami Matheny in hopes of improving their mental-toughness.
“I think reading The Confident Athlete made me realize that some of the small things that I do when I make mistakes can harm myself and (my team),” Hammond said. “In volleyball, it’s important to focus on the next point instead of the mistakes you made in the last point.”
As the team prepares for the conference tournament, they also are keeping their long-term goal in mind: making it to the state championship. Northwest has only sent one volleyball to the state championship, during the 2015 season, and has never won. Setting such a high goal has helped motivate the team to further their winning streak throughout the season
“I hope that we continue winning. The first thing that we need to focus on is winning the conference and the tournament, then we need to set our goals on the state tournament,” Hammond said. “I hope that we make it to the state championship!”
The volleyball team is scheduled to play at High Point Central on Tuesday and at Wheatmore on Thursday.