It's not surprising that Lindsay Mohon has brought so much enthusiasm to her first varsity head coaching position.
Wouldn't you if it was your alma mater?
Mohon, a 2001 Millard North graduate and former Mustang volleyball player, has guided her squad to a 27-14 record and a berth in the state tournament that begins Thursday at Grand Island's Heartland Events Center. Millard North faces Omaha Marian at 4 p.m. in the first round.
“It's kind of a surreal feeling,” she said. “I feel like I do have some added incentive coaching at my home school.”
Mohon, who played collegiately at North Alabama, was an assistant at Omaha Burke for four years before returning to the Mustangs. She credits the two Bulldog coaches she worked for — John Svehla and Rick Hughes — for preparing her to be a head coach.
“I learned a lot from them,” she said. “I understood the importance of being organized, and I felt like I knew what to expect when I got here.”
Mohon has made a smooth transition, and her enthusiasm has been welcomed by her players.
“I've never seen a coach more passionate about volleyball,” senior middle hitter Makayla Maxwell said. “I feel like we've really made progress throughout the season and that she's taken the program to new levels.”
Millard North, which went 7-24 in 2011, has turned it around this year. The return of several starters, including Washburn recruit Maxwell, gave Mohon a solid foundation.
“She's brought a different coaching style, and I think that's a good thing,” Maxwell said. “We've learned from our mistakes, and that's made us better.”
The Mustangs went 3-3 in the tough Bellevue Invitational to open the season, defeating Class B powers Omaha Gross and Omaha Skutt. The Mustangs continued to play hard throughout the year and saved one of their best matches for the Metro Conference tournament, pushing second-ranked Omaha Marian to three sets in a semifinal.
“We were with them neck and neck all the way,” Mohon said. “Taking a set off of them helped us build our confidence even more.”
Millard North went on to capture the district title the next week, defeating Lincoln East and Papillion-La Vista to earn a trip to state.
“To win the district championship was one of our goals,” Mohon said. “But we know there's still more we want to accomplish this season.”
The Mustangs have found success with a balanced attack. Five players — Maxwell, Megan Elsasser, Isabella Siciunas, Jahne Maddock and Katherine King — have more than 150 kills apiece.
Setters Nikki Ohlinger (519 assists), Paige Madsen (216) and Jessica Peters (187) have kept the offense rolling while senior Sara Vitito (97 kills) and libero Morgan Thompson (301 digs) also have played important roles.
“The girls have really bought into our team concept,” Mohon said. “We don't have any superstars but we play together and we play hard.”
Millard North will have a tough opening match against Marian. Mohon said her team is mentally prepared for the challenge.
“I really feel like we're hitting our stride,” she said. “We have to go out and play fearlessly, and I think our girls are capable of doing that.”
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