By Tommy Keeler Jr.
QUICKSBURG -- After two long years of struggling, Stonewall Jackson's volleyball team has turned things around in a big way.
Most of the players are the same, but are now a year older, and the way they play together has been a big factor in their success.
"Honestly, I really felt like we had this potential. Our personnel isn't that much different. I really feel like the confidence and chemistry they have as a team is what is making this team so successful this year," Stonewall Jackson coach Jamie Armentrout said. "They're not one person trying to do everything. They work together and I think that makes a huge difference in terms of success for our team this year."
Stonewall Jackson is 8-7 overall, and just under .500 in a very tough district, but it's still quite an improvement from the last two years.
Three years ago the Generals advanced to the Region B tournament, but then things got worse the following year. The Generals struggled to win matches with a young team.
Last year the team started off strong, winning three of its first four matches. However, several senior starters were suspended for quite a few games and the team never recovered and didn't win another match.
Due to the suspensions, players had to move to different positions, and in the long run it's helped the players on this year's team.
"A lot of us got thrown in here," Goodier said of last season. "Last year I played full rotation, and now I'm more comfortable in that spot because I did it last year."
The 5-foot-10 Goodier, a middle blocker, along with the 5-foot-11 Ali Singleton, an outside hitter, have made a huge impact on the Generals team this season.
They are the top two in the area in kills. Singleton has 142 kills, while Goodier has 136. Goodier also has an area-best 110 blocks, while Singleton has 33.
Singleton said some of their teammates have called them the "Twin Towers."
"Right now it just seems like both of them are on, regardless of what kind of sets are set to them," Armentrout said. "When it seems like blockers figure it out, they can change locations and send their attacks different places."
That was certainly the case last week in a win over Riverheads. The Generals had lost to the Gladiators earlier in the season, when Singleton was out with a sprained ankle. Last Thursday, the Generals trailed 2-1 but rallied to win the match in five sets.
Even more impressive were the numbers the team put up. Goodier had 32 kills, while Singleton added 20. Senior libero Taylor Koontz had 46 digs, and senior setter Michaela Koontz had 44 assists.
"I was surprised when I saw [my stats]," Goodier said. "I knew I had some kills. I kept on changing my hits because they were starting to pick it up, and then I would change it. Sometimes when I change it, it just messes me up. But that night when I changed it, everything just really worked out for me."
Stonewall started the season off well, including wins over county rivals Central and Strasburg.
The Generals then began district play against East Rockingham, which was considered one of the top teams in the district. The Generals beat them in four sets.
"We always come out with a lot of intensity in the games against the county, so it was good to get those wins," Taylor Koontz said. "We went and played East Rock right after that, and we knew they were going to be tough, but we came out and beat them. That was good. We were all pumped."
The Generals stayed on a roll until Singleton suffered her injury, which kept her out of two matches.
Last week's win over Riverheads showed that the team is back on track and should be a real factor in the district the rest of the way. The Generals have four seniors, Goodier, Michaela Koontz, Taylor Koontz and Katelyn Hackenbracht.
The seniors are motivated to go out with a bang.
"It's your last chance to give it everything you have," Goodier said. "I think we've done a nice job so far. You just want to give it all you have."
The other players on the team also want to do their best for the seniors.
"I love all our seniors so much," Singleton said. "It's going to be hard letting them go, but that makes me want to play that much better for their senior year."
With three district matches left, the Generals could still finish in the top part of the district and get a home match for the district tournament. The Generals have high hopes as to how successful the team can end up being.
"I think we could be district champs," Taylor Koontz said. "Our district is really close and I think we're capable of beating anybody that we play. That's what I would like to do and advance to regionals."
Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org