By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- For Autumn Troxell, there's nothing quite like the feeling of getting a kill.
It's just like the feeling the Warren County junior gets at her favorite time of the year.
"When you get a perfect hit, it's really a great feeling -- it's like Christmas day," Troxell said. "You get a perfect pass, and then the setter just gives you the perfect hit. It really brings up the energy of the game and everyone gets pumped, and it really just sets the mood."
Troxell didn't start playing volleyball until seventh grade, and when she first started out she was a setter. The following year she moved up to Warren County's JV team, and was switched to outside hitter.
Warren County coach Sarah Putnam said she coached Troxell her eighth grade year, and was pleased with how quickly she learned the hitter position. Putnam said the fact that Troxell is 6-foot-1 and that she's a good athlete are big reasons why she's so talented as a hitter.
"She's a natural athlete in all of the sports that she plays, so that's in her favor and our favor from the team's perspective as well."
Troxell said she's learned a lot from the coaches about hitting the last few years, and it's helped make her a better player.
"My eighth grade year they taught me how to hit and footwork, and now I've just gotten better on my timing and my arm swing, and weight lifting making me stronger," Troxell said. "It's really helped out being in this program. They've been helping me learn how to play -- fundamentals -- and get better with it."
Troxell was brought up to the varsity team as a freshman and played at outside hitter. She said she learned a lot from that season, which really helped her going into last season.
Last year Putnam took over as head coach and moved Troxell from outside hitter to middle hitter.
This year Putnam said Troxell may play a little of both for the Wildcats.
"This year she has the experience now of playing both outside and middle and we have the ability to put here anywhere the team needs her," Putnam said. "She's great. She's already expressed that wherever we need her to play to benefit the team, she's willing to do that."
Troxell helped lead the Wildcats to a third-place finish in the Evergreen District last year. They went 13-7, picking up the most wins in the program's history since 2004.
She was one of the top hitters on the team, and said it was a great season for the program.
"Last year was pretty good," Troxell said. "We had a solid team. It was a pretty good team. We had a good setter and she really helped us out. I thought we were going to go further than we did, but I'm proud of how we played."
Troxell also plays basketball and softball, but said volleyball is her favorite sport. She said she plans to play on a travel volleyball team next spring in addition to playing softball for the Wildcats.
Over the summer Troxell said she stayed with her grandparents in Louisiana, and attended an LSU volleyball camp.
"It was a really great experience," Troxell said. "I learned a lot, learned a lot of drills and techniques. It's a really nice program down there."
This season the Wildcats are in the Bull Run District and will play in Conference 28 in the postseason.
The Wildcats have only four players back from last year's team. Troxell said she's looking forward to playing in a new district and is excited to see how the team fares.
"I just want us to have a positive record, and I just want us to play as a team and try our best with every game," Troxell said. "I think if we play as a team and work as a team, we can accomplish all of our positive goals."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org