GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Female Athlete of the Week: Alyssa Taylor anchors defense of undefeated Waynesboro Maidens
Alyssa Taylor has played all over the volleyball court.
When she started for Waynesboro four years ago, she was an outside hitter. As a junior, she split the setting duties. Now, in her senior campaign, Taylor is right where she belongs.
The Maiden libero racked up a total of 73 digs this week, helping Waynesboro complete its undefeated regular season. Taylor is the Public Opinion Female Athlete of the Week.
"Playing so many positions has really helped me," Taylor said. "As a libero at the collegiate level, you have to take a lot of second balls after the setter's pass, so it's given me the confidence to do that. Being a hitter helped me understand the hitting position, and I have a really good court awareness because of that."
The week wasn't easy for the Maidens, who had to get through three matches to ensure the clean slate. Taylor led the team in digs all week, starting with 18 in a 3-1 win over South Western and adding 23 in a shutout of Big Spring. The biggest test of all came in the regular season finale against Northern York.
The Polar Bears won the first set, but Waynesboro adjusted, Taylor dug 32 balls and the Maidens swept the next three matches.
"We definitely had to make some adjustments," Waynesboro coach Kim Saunders said. "We were getting beat down the line. We pulled Alyssa toward the line a little bit, and she was able to pick up some key balls there. Her read perception from the swing is just incredible, so she was clutch for us in that match."
One of Taylor's biggest assets is her never-give-up mentality.
"On defense, you have to have the mind set that nothing is going to hit the floor," Taylor said. "You have to think you can get something. Many times I've surprised myself because I thought there was no way I could get a ball, but I just don't give up on it. That's something I encourage my teammates to do, and I think we've all gotten a lot better at that as a team."
Taylor does a lot of encouragement both on and off the court, and was voted by her teammates as one of the Maidens' three captains.
"She's been a four-year varsity letterwinner, and she has an enormous amount of playing experience both through club ball and being on the court for the Maidens," Saunders said. "They knew her leadership and her skills would not only help us in regular situations, but also in high-pressure situations. She's a follow-by-example kind of leader."
Waynesboro will need that moving forward, as it has a rematch with Red Lion in the opening round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs Saturday.
Sport: Girls volleyball
Parents: Jason and Lisa Taylor
Other interests: Although Alyssa said "volleyball pretty much consumes my life," she also likes to read and write, and she works at TJ Maxx.
Surprising fact: She is already committed play volleyball at Virginia Wesleyan College.
Favorite team: Penn State women's volleyball
Athlete most admired: Tabitha Eshleman, who played for PSU and coached Taylor in club volleyball. Taylor also receives private lessons from Eshleman during the offseason.
Statistics: Taylor has been a defensive force all season for the Maidens, who just concluded an undefeated regular season ... In 3 matches this week, Taylor racked up a total of 73 digs and had a 32-dig performance in a 3-1 victory over Northern York.