By Brad Fauber
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County head volleyball coach Sarah Putnam was excited about what middle hitter Autumn Troxell could bring to the table for the 2013 season, and the junior has not disappointed.
Troxell has been the catalyst for the Wildcats' offensive attack this season, and her ability to put the ball on the floor has been a major reason why Warren County achieved the No. 3 seed and a first-round home game in this year's Bull Run District tournament.
"She works extremely hard. Her work ethic and her positive attitude really impacts the team," Putnam said. "The team looks to her for that and she's definitely stepped up this season."
Troxell's impact for Warren County has been noticeable all season long, and she continued to have the hot hand for the Wildcats last week.
The 6-foot-1 junior smashed 15 kills in a 3-1 win over Rappahannock County on Oct. 22 in Warren County's district regular season finale, and Troxell kept the Wildcats in the match until the end against cross-town rival Skyline last Thursday with a 23-kill effort in an eventual 3-2 loss to the Hawks.
Troxell's powerful performance against Skyline gave her a two-match total of 38 kills, and her performance netted her the honor of The Northern Virginia Daily's Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Oct. 20-26.
"Honestly, I can't take any of that. My passers and my setters really helped me out on that," Troxell said. "They got good passes to set me up. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have had that."
Troxell's outburst last week was nothing new to Warren County, as she currently ranks near the top of the area leaderboard in kills (242) and blocks (81). She also has a total of 107 digs this season and holds a serving percentage of 83 percent.
Putnam said that Troxell's ability to play anywhere on the volleyball court is an added benefit for Warren County.
"She is a great utility player. We have her serving, playing back row and front row. That's just a testament to her athleticism, her being able to play all of those positions," Putnam said.
Putnam praised Troxell's team-first approach, and Troxell said that the motivation for each of her thunderous kills comes directly from the effort of her teammates on the floor.
"I think it's just adrenaline. Long rallies really make me want to just want to go up there and show up for my team," Troxell said. "They've worked hard, running back and forth trying to get the ball up, and it's just the least thing that I could do for them, try to get it in."
The loss to Skyline in Warren County's regular-season finale was a tough one to swallow for the Wildcats, but Troxell said the team is using that defeat as motivation as Warren County dives into postseason play.
The Wildcats (12-10) seemed to shake off the loss nicely with a thrilling comeback win over Strasburg in the first round of the district tournament on Tuesday -- a match in which Troxell had 15 kills and seven blocks. Warren County will look to keep that momentum going tonight when they travel to Madison County High School for the district semifinals against No. 2 William Monroe.
"We just have to use that [loss to Skyline] and move forward," Troxell said. "It was a tough one, it was very emotional. It's a rivalry game and we only get so many of those in our lifetime, so we're definitely going to use that loss to fuel us to want to do better."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD