WILLIAMSPORT — As the lone senior on the Westfall volleyball team this season, Josie Williams knew she needed to step into a different role.
“I knew it was going to be important to step up and be a leader for our team, because I knew we were going to have a young team this season,” Williams said. “I knew I needed to be that vocal leader on the court to tell them where they needed to be and what they needed to do in order to help them make the transition to the varsity game and the different speed it’s played at.”
The role was even more important considering the Mustangs were coming off their third consecutive losing season and a sixth-place finish in the Scioto Valley Conference.
“We knew we had the ability and talent to turn it around this season, it was going to come down to how fast our younger players adapted to the varsity game and also getting some confidence and believing in ourselves,” Williams said.
A 13-match winning streak was made to order as the Mustangs built confidence and showed the depth they had compared to a season ago.
Williams also showed she was a leader on the floor with her play during one of the biggest matches during the run — a four-set win over long-time nemesis Adena last month — when she had a monster match with 24 kills and 26 digs to go with dishing out 21 assists.
“After last season, we knew we needed more people hitting at the net than just Kristin (Phillips),” Williams said. “I knew I needed to focus on more than just setting and being more of an all-around player, to where I could help out more at the net and also playing defense.
“That’s one of the nice things about our team. I can step up when I need to and then when I don’t play as well as I felt I should have, then we have other girls stepping up and helping out. We have each others back.”
Williams leads the teams in assists (353), aces (35) and digs (247), and is second in kills (175) and third in blocks (22).
Phillips discussed Williams’ impact on the Mustangs’ success this season.
“Josie’s our leader out there on the court,” she said. “She’s a good vocal leader and she knows how to keep everyone up.
“She always sets me a good ball to hit, she can dig and she can also hit and block at the net. She’s really been all over the court for us this season.”
A year after finishing 8-14 overall and 5-9 in the conference, the Mustangs earned the top-seed in their sectional last weekend and enter their final match of the regular-season today against Zane Trace with a 17-3 record and are 11-2 in the conference. Westfall has already clinched a share of the conference title and can claim the honor outright with a win over Zane Trace or an Adena loss to Huntington.
Westfall coach Jessica Sullivan reflected on what Williams has meant to the Mustangs’ turnaround season.
“Being the only senior on a young team isn’t easy, so we didn’t want to put too much pressure on Josie,” she said. “Josie accepted the leadership role, both vocally and by how she plays on the court, on her own.
“She does a great job of constantly communicating with the girls and when she sees something that someone needs to be doing then she’ll let them know. She has kept the girls focused and especially helped our younger players out. She’s been an essential part of our turnaround this season.”