Geuss Hopes KP Spikers Get Chance to Showcase Their TalentJul 31, 2020 02:44PM ● By Ken Hamway
Kristen Geuss will be ecstatic if schools can keep interscholastic athletics in the mix for the fall.
After all, the King Philip volleyball coach, whose team was one victory shy of playing in the State tourney last year, has a capable group of returnees that should make the Warriors one of the premier teams in the area.
Geuss, however, has never lost perspective and has always kept her priorities in order when talk of the coronavirus is the topic. She’s acutely aware of all the precautions that are necessary to deal with the pandemic and she’s totally tuned in to preserving the health and safety of everyone.
“I’m hopeful about playing this fall,’’ said Geuss, who’s guided KP to five tourney berths in her five years at the helm. “And, I’m hoping all fans of KP volleyball can enjoy this season. What’s most important, however, is the health and safety of everyone. We always want to do what’s best for students, the community and our country.’’
Geuss knows that if there’s a fall sports season, volleyball will face procedural changes to deal with COVID-19. Changes that will affect games, practices, locker-room use, busing, post-game handshakes and crowd spacing. “All those aspects will be affected,’’ she said, “but I don’t know what the protocol will be.’’
What Geuss does know is that her roster will be intimidating for opposing squads. The Warriors’ strengths are many. “We’ve got experience and depth,’’ she noted. “Our volleyball IQ is high and our team chemistry is good. Our players are coachable, provide leadership and have mental toughness. We’ve got a team that can go far.’’
Geuss’ goals for 2020 are admirable. “I want our players to become better people on and off the court,’’ she said. “I want to win the Kelly-Rex Division of the Hockomock League and I’d like to see us advance as far as possible in the playoffs by maintaining a competitive program.’’
The journey begins the last week of this month when pre-season practice gets underway. Three key contributors will be the senior captains — Nicole Coughlan (middle hitter), Emma Brooks (libero) and Lily Carlow (defensive specialist).
“Nicole is a Hockomock League all-star and a two-time captain who led the team in kills (252) last year,’’ Geuss said. “She can find holes in a defense and she’s a strong server. Emma led the team last year in digs (151) and she led the league in aces (88). She’s a strong server, she’s versatile and solid in the back row. Lily gives 100 percent every day. She’s quick, strong, a fierce competitor and totally dedicated to volleyball. All the captains are three-year veterans and they’re exceptional leaders.’’
Seniors Lauren Peterson (setter) and Ali McNamara (outside hitter) are also experienced competitors. “Lauren is a quiet leader who’s smart and an effective server,’’ Geuss said. “She runs our offense very well and can place the ball where the hitters want it. She had 378 assists and 37 aces last year. Ali can hit cross-court as well as down the line. She’s a high-impact player.’’
A pair of senior right-side hitters (Paige Kannally and Giovanna Fruci) gives KP a dominating appearance when the action goes that way. “Paige is an incredible blocker,’’ Geuss emphasized. “A player with lots of potential, she can really read the hitters. Giovanna is another strong blocker who’s quick and also has potential on the right side.’’
Four girls who’ll be vying for playing time are seniors Camryn Buckley (right-side hitter), Tori Claypoole (defensive specialist) and Kira Iantosca (defensive specialist) and sophomore Ahunna James (outside hitter). “They have strong skill-sets and are very enthusiastic,’’ Geuss said.
Only four players graduated from last year’s team that posted an 18-5 overall record and advanced to the Sectional final where it lost to Boston Latin. The quartet includes Catherine Waldeck, Kristen Masse, Kiley Sullivan and Alison Hitchen.
A capable contingent of returnees, however, reinforces that Geuss will have a talented roster. But she knows there are no guarantees and that the Hockomock League is highly competitive. “Teams like Franklin and Canton are top-notch squads,’’ she said. “They’ve got tradition, they’re well-coached and their players have talent. My job is to be sure our players keep improving and reach their potential.’’
The spring and summer have left players, coaches and fans of volleyball wondering if the sport will be on the menu this fall. If it is, Geuss will be thrilled.
“If we don’t have a season, it will be devastating,’’ said Geuss, who was KP’s jayvee coach for four years. “I can’t imagine a fall without volleyball. It’ll be difficult for the seniors who’ve worked so hard for so many years. But, no matter what’s decided, I know that volleyball won’t define these girls. Whether we have a season or not, this group will go on to be very successful.’’
Kristen Geuss has always maintained proper perspective and she’s always kept the big picture in focus — everyone’s health and safety.