Northside’s Maddox named County Volleyball Coach of the Year

Published 3:20 pm Friday, December 26, 2014

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS PEP TALK: Maddox talks to her team during Northside’s second round playoff game against Union.

PEP TALK: Maddox talks to her team during Northside’s second round playoff game against Union.

First-year head coach Kayla Maddox has been named the 2014 Washington Daily News Volleyball Coach of the Year for her efforts in leading the Panthers to a 14-7 record.

Coming off a 13-5 season in 2013, Northside graduated one of the best middle hitters in the county in Alexandra Cutler, along with setter, defensive specialist and captain Cheyenne Franks. The duo excelled during in the regular season and was the heartbeat of the team.

Waiting in the foreground, however, was Alex Adams, a junior who contributed a quiet 76 kills and consistent net play. In 2014, Northside would operate through Adams’ skillset and Maddox, who entering having just one season of jayvee coaching experience under her belt.

“I think I was lucky to have such a strong team,” Maddox said. “These girls have been strong athletically for almost their entire high school careers, so it was easy to step into that and let them run the show.”

In a competitive Coastal Plains Conference, the Panthers finished 10-2, stringing together five-straight victories at one point, but the season wasn’t all smooth sailing. It took the first month for the team to find its identity, Maddox included. Northside began the season 2-3 with two losses to Riverside and one to Pamlico County, two teams the Panthers would see later down the line. Once every player began to adapt to new roles on the court, the wins came in bunches.

“They started to trust me and I trusted them with what they’re saying,” Maddox said. “We built up this dynamic where we all worked real well together. There was nobody trying to steal the spotlight. They all knew I would try to do what’s best for the team. It helped that everybody just relied on everyone else.

“We started off sluggish, built up all this momentum and got to the top at the right moment. They gave all they had and were the best they were ever going to be at the right time.”

After a crushing 3-0 loss to the Pam Pack midway through the season, Northside met Washington again on Dec. 6 and took the match to five games. While the Panthers lost, the match served as a testament to the team’s improvement.

In the playoffs, the Panthers peaked at the right time. In a thrilling five-game match, Northside held off a late comeback by Gates County to win its first playoff game in many years.

While a handful of late substitutions by Maddox were questioned, those same moves proved to be the difference in the team’s second round match against Union. The Panthers won two closely contested games to start, as Maddox rested the starters in the third, a game that they lost 25-22. In the fourth and final game, Northside was the more rested team, outlasting the Spartans in the final minutes for a 25-22 win.

“It was like a fantasy. I was so proud of them every day and everyone would tell me how excited they were,” Maddox said.

“I learned it takes a lot of your time and a lot of emotional energy, as well as physical energy to be successful.”

Northside went on to lose its third round game to Riverside, a team that finished with a 20-4 record.

Maddox will lose six seniors, four starters, to graduation this spring and will look to rebuild in the coming years.