Volleyball Captains are Superb Ambassadors for KP Trio’s Perspective on COVID-19 is ImpressiveMar 01, 2021 02:37PM ● By Ken Hamway
KP's volleyball captains are, from left, Nicole Coughlan, Lily Carlow, and Emma Brooks
The King Philip volleyball team has a trio of senior captains who are dynamic ambassadors for their school.
Their leadership skills are superb and their abilities on a volleyball court are top-notch. But, what’s even more impressive is their perspective in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The captains are Nicole Coughlan, a six-foot middle hitter; Emma Brooks, a 5-foot-6 libero/defensive specialist; and 5-foot-5 Lily Carlow, another libero/defensive specialist.
The captains are gearing up for their final interscholastic season, which was moved from last fall to what’s now labeled the “Fall 2” season. Because of the coronavirus, volleyball competition was delayed but will get under way this month.
Their coach, Kristen Geuss, not only turns out exceptional volleyball players, but she also molds her competitors into top quality individuals, on and off the court. Here’s what she says about the trio:
“These girls have worked hard for four years and they’ve all played at the varsity level for three seasons. I’ve watched them grow into mature, responsible individuals, both on and off the court. I’m very proud to have them as captains and to have them represent King Philip athletics. I look forward to seeing them compete this year and to lead the team to a successful season.’’
Geuss also admires her captains’ intense desire and their skill level.
“Nicole has been a Hockomock League all-star twice and she’s a two-time captain who led the team in kills (252) last year. She can find holes in a defense and she’s a strong server. Emma, an honorable-mention all-star last year, led the team 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 exceptional leaders.’’
The trio played a key role in KP’s 18-5 record last year that led to a tie for the Hockomock League championship and a berth in the Sectional final. When the Fall 2 season gets underway, the Warriors will open at Mansfield on March 11 at 5 p.m.
So, here’s what the girls say about the coming season, their passion for volleyball, the pandemic, their most memorable game, their coach and their futures:
The 18-year-old Coughlan is a native of Wrentham who thrives when she’s on a volleyball court.
“I like the pace of the sport, it’s a team game and every play is different,’’ she said. “Playing middle hitter enables me to get kills and blocks and there’s no better feeling when those occur. I also enjoy passing and setting. What makes the sport so thrilling is that you have to work hard for every possession.’’
A captain who leads by example and by being vocal and supportive, Coughlan was a bit uneasy when it appeared that volleyball could be canceled, like all the spring sports in 2020. “I was nervous during the time it was unknown if we’d be playing,’’ she said. “When we learned that volleyball was being moved to the Fall 2 season, there was a sense of relief. We’re blessed to get this opportunity.’’
The modifications, like wearing masks, social distancing on the bench, hand-sanitizing, and crowd limits are all aspects that Coughlan can deal with.
“During summer and fall league, all of us wore masks,’’ she noted. “We’d rather have changes and new rules than no season. But, what’s most important is the health and safety of everyone. If we had no volleyball but a guarantee that the virus would disappear and everyone would be safe, I definitely could live with that. Health is the No. 1 priority.’’
Coughlan’s goals this season are lofty.
“I’d like to see KP go unbeaten, win the Kelly-Rex Division and capture a post-season title if there are playoffs,’’ she emphasized. “Individually, I’d like to lead the division in kills and get more blocks.’’
Citing last year’s Sectional semifinal victory over Quincy as her most memorable game, Coughlan has some interesting thoughts about that contest. “Their crowd was booing us constantly,’’ she said. “But, we pulled together and persevered. It was an awesome feeling to win and that game helped me to gain confidence as a player and a leader.’’
A fan of her coach, Coughlan rates Geuss as “a great motivator’’ and a coach who “sees our potential and pushes us to reach that level.’’
A firm believer in hard work, Coughlan, who’s a National Art Honor Society student, plans on a career in dentistry. Whatever college she chooses, she’s likely to compete in volleyball at the club level.
The 18-year-old Brooks is a native of Norfolk who enjoys her role as a libero.
“It’s a position where you have control of the start of every play,’’ she noted. “I like diving for the ball and keeping play alive. I thrive on volleyball because it produces lots of surprises and to deal with that you have to be instinctive.’’
A captain who combines leading by example with being vocal and supportive, Brooks believes that earning her teammates’ trust will help the squad to succeed. Nervous about losing the season last fall, she was pleased when officials moved volleyball to March and April.
“I was relieved after hearing we’d play in the Fall 2 season,’’ she said. “I’m hoping the virus will relent and that the new season can have some normalcy. We’ve got a glimmer of hope and we’re all ready to deal with the changes and modifications. We’re thankful we’ve had two good seasons of volleyball and now we’ll have a third. My hope is that the elderly stay safe and everyone can be healthy.’’
Brooks is hopeful the Warriors will have a quality season. “I’d like to see us win as many games as possible and capture the division title,’’ she said. “My personal goals are to increase my serve receives and to lead the league again in aces.’’
Also pointing to the five-set triumph over Quincy as her most meaningful game, Brooks was pleased that every member of the squad contributed. “We all had solid efforts,’’ she said. “It was a tense matchup because the winner would advance to the Sectional final.’’
Relying on a competitive philosophy of winning and having fun, Brooks is a fan of her coach for several reasons. “Coach Geuss has helped me to be a stronger person since my sophomore year,’’ she emphasized. “She’s a terrific motivator who helps to build confidence in her players.’’
Brooks is a National Honor Society student who plans on majoring in health science and biology in college. She’s aiming for a career as a physician’s assistant.
The 17-year-old Wrentham native is a libero who relies on an intense competitive desire. As a defensive specialist, Carlow strives to control the game’s tempo.
“I enjoy playing libero because it’s an active position where control of the pace is a key,’’ she said. “It’s important to be quick and instinctive because the hits come at you super hard. I like volleyball primarily because it’s a high-energy game and a team sport that features six girls working for one point.’’
Carlow’s emotions were up and down as the pandemic raged and posed a threat to cancel the season.
“I was apprehensive at first but was relieved that it was moved to the Fall 2 time,’’ she noted. “I’m happy to be playing, even with less games scheduled. And, we can deal with all the modifications. It’s sad we won’t have a normal season but we’re not in normal times. The top priority, however, is everyone’s health and safety. I’m close to my grandparents and I want them to be healthy and safe.’’
Carlow’s goals this season include “taking nothing for granted, focusing on one match at a time and winning every game.’’ She also would like to “improve my jump serves and increase my number of serve receives.’’
The tourney victory over Quincy is also the most memorable moment of her volleyball career. “We never experienced heckling or booing in Hockomock League games but we heard them that game,’’ she recalled. “We responded by stepping up against a highly partisan crowd. We all contributed and the victory remains a fond memory.’’
Labeling Geuss as “a supportive coach,’’ Carlow likes her motivational style. “Coach Geuss is the team’s primary leader and she leads by example,’’ said Carlow, whose father is KP’s varsity ice hockey coach. “She makes us earn our playing time and work to reach our potential.’’
A captain who’ll lead by example and by being supportive, Carlow hopes her leadership style will rub off on others. Her athletic philosophy is all about winning. “When you win, that creates fun,’’ she said.
Serving as president of the National Art Honor Society, Carlow will major in education and hopes to be a high school teacher.