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Unbeaten King volleyball thrives thanks to chemistry, coaching continuity

  • TAMPA — King High senior Taylor Wooldridge remembers what it was like as a freshman at the end of the 2014 volleyball season.
  • King has a great setter in Julia Saxton, who dishes to great equal-opportunity hitters, including Wooldridge (committed to play beach volleyball next year at Jacksonville State University), Nelly Padilla, Stephanie Mohler and JoJo Sosa.
  • The players, meantime, couldn’t be much more thankful for Gonzales, who Saxton says is “tough but fair.”
  • After all those coaching changes, Taylor Wooldridge said, “We were so happy that (Gonzales) was with us because you could tell he was committed.”
  • Gonzales believes his team could win it, but the Lions would have to pull off a couple of early victories without two key players who are taking the SAT on Saturday morning.

TAMPA — King High senior Taylor Wooldridge remembers what it was like as a freshman at the end of the 2014 volleyball season.

TAMPA — King High senior Taylor Wooldridge remembers what it was like as a freshman at the end of the 2014 volleyball season.

Five-set match for a region semifinal victory. Packed house. Fans on their feet. Screaming at the heights of excitement.

“Fun,” Wooldridge said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Then steadily over the next few years — which involved five coaching changes, including three in the 2016 season alone — the excitement faded.

The 2017 season, under first-year Lions coach Brian Gonzales, has featured a complete rejuvenation with a 14-0 record entering the week.

“We are back and we hope to see those stands full again like it was (at the end of 2014),” Wooldridge said. “We believe we can do it.”

Why think otherwise?

King has a great setter in Julia Saxton, who dishes to great equal-opportunity hitters, including Wooldridge (committed to play beach volleyball next year at Jacksonville State University), Nelly Padilla, Stephanie Mohler and JoJo Sosa.

Defensively, the Lions look just as tough with the aforementioned at the net while libero Hayden Wooldridge digs everything that comes near her (294 digs through 14 games).

The best part, however, may be the Lion’s chemistry and their ability to adjust an opponent’s…

Unbeaten King volleyball thrives thanks to chemistry, coaching continuity