Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WILLIAMSPORT — At all times last fall, Westfall’s front row was as dangerous as they come.
Marissa Mullins was in the center of that storm, helping her Mustangs pick apart opposing defenses while compiling an impressive stat package.
The 6-foot middle tallied 325 kills, 23 aces, 69 blocks and 308 digs en route to an SVC Player of the Year honor alongside All-Ohio accolades. Her efforts helped Westfall win a Division III district title before the team’s season ended in a regional semifinal.
But that was last year and this is this year.
Many things have changed within Westfall’s locker room, including a new head coach in Stacy Caudill.
We caught up with Mullins, now a senior, and asked her about the changes within the program, how she plans to top last year’s campaign, and what to expect this year from her Mustangs.
Q: First things first. SVC Player of the Year and so many other accolades last year. How do you top that this season?
Mullins: With this year being my last year at Westfall, I want to leave everything I have on the court. My team and I have been putting work in since May with a new coach, who has been pushing us since the beginning of it all. She motivates me to be better and tells me the areas I need to improve most on, which will not only help myself, but the team.
Q: You’re back and a slew of talent is also. But you also lost a great senior class. How do you guys replace that talent?
MM: Replacing Kristin Phillips in the front row will definitely be a hard thing to do, but I think we have gained strength defensively in our back row play. That will help cover the loss of last year’s seniors. Our primary focus during practices has been our defense and with coach Caudill, we get better every single day.
Q: Who’s going to surprise us this year? What teammate of yours that we may not know so well is excelling in practice?
MM: With over 1,000 assists, Claire Latham has always been one to come out and play her game since freshman year. She’s an incredible setter and a leader of the team. I also think Madi Brown and Grace Wolfe will have a big impact this year and improve our back row tremendously.
Q: You play in one of the most talented leagues in the state. What’s it like on a nightly basis?
MM: Our league is very competitive and we have to come out ready to play every single night because no other team is going to take a night off.
Q: What are your team and individual goals going into your senior year?
MM: Our team goals are to come out on top of the SVC and win the Gold Ball. Coach Caudill also believes we can make it far in the tournament, which is also one of our bigger goals.
Q: Overall, what can we expect from the Westfall Mustangs this season?
MM: This season, we have seven seniors returning and a couple of incoming freshmen able to play up with us. I think we can come out just as strong, or stronger, than last year.