BY APRIL RICHEY
The Greenville Standard
Six short years ago, McKenzie High School branched out to start the first ever volleyball team at the school. The 2015-2016 school year would be the first time the McKenzie High School volleyball team would take the court at the school with Donna Byrd as Head Coach.
With all eyes on the junior varsity team, they took the win, making history at the school of winning the very first volleyball game ever played at the school.
Dana Richey Johnson was a sophomore at McKenzie School at that time and played on both JV and varsity and remembers the first time stepping out onto the court. “I was nervous but ready to play. I remember Coach Byrd telling me often to lose my attitude. I would get so mad at myself when I would make a mistake. JV and varsity both worked so hard and I was so proud to be a part of the first volleyball team at my school,” Johnson said.
Although the first teams for the school didn’t see many victories the first few years, they kept growing and with each year, wins started to come more often.
This year even with Covid-19 hanging around, the McKenzie volleyball team made history yet again, by making it to the playoffs with four players from the original first year team, Sara Watford, Abby Pope, Armani Womack and Lexie Jones.
“We had a tough first half of the season, on the road for seven straight games. Being able to play at home towards the end of the season gave us a lift, and we picked up some wins.
“These girls are learning and improving with every game. I am proud of the way they are learning to play through the tough spots and fight to the end.
“We are a young group, starting two ninth graders all season and taking five eighth graders into the playoffs with us. We have counted heavily on our returning starters, which includes three seniors, Breanna Bennett, Sara Watford, and Abby Pope.
Junior, Armani Womack has been a strong leader as well. We are excited to see what our future holds,” said Byrd.
Playoffs are single elimination and began Thursday Oct. 15 at 5 p.m. with McKenzie going up against University Charter School in Livingston. Unfortunately, the McKenzie Lady Tigers did not see a win and were eliminated in the first round.
This is still a huge win for the team, and the school. With the volleyball program being only six years old, these young ladies have worked very hard to learn a sport that was practically unknown at the school before Coach Byrd.
These young ladies have already begun talking about next year and how to improve and make it back to the playoffs!
Team players were: seniors, Breanna Bennett, Sara Watford, and Abby Pope; juniors, Armani Womack, Abigail Johnson, and Faith Burleson; sophomore, Lexie Jones; freshman, Taylor Campbell, Harper Bennett, and Aimee Brooks; eight grade, Alana Jones, Trenda Pierce, Sara Pope, Charisa Bullard, and Alesha Langford.