INWOOD - Taylor Lord has had quite a junior season.Musselman's powerful outside hitter recorded her 1,000th kill in September, won a state title earlier this month and now has been named state volleyball player of the year by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.Lord is the third Musselman player to earn the honor, joining Erica Manor and Taylor Allen."She's a special player. She affects the game in so many ways," Musselman coach Shawn Martz said. "If you're an average fan, you see how hard she hits the ball, but you might not notice the perfect pass, the digs she makes look easy that aren't easy.
"She has a lot of natural ability, but much of her ability has come through thousands and thousands of repetitions. She's made herself into that. I feel lucky to have her on our side."Despite receiving much attention for her individual play, Lord, who finished with 567 kills and 293 digs, always has a team mindset and lets the stats fall as they may."We don't really see stats as a reward, we see it as a way to pick out what details we need to get better at. That always helps us kind of pick spots where we need to work on," she said."You always think about [stats], especially when you have those big stat numbers. At the end of the day, it's all about how you perform, and it's not always about the numbers. I would definitely pick a state championship over having 15 kills in a game."Coincidentally, she had exactly 15 kills in Musselman's win against Greenbrier East in the Class AAA state championship match, earning the Applemen their third volleyball state title. Prior to that, she notched 12 kills against Capital in the state quarterfinals and 14 kills against Parkersburg in the semifinals.Winning the state title was even more special for the entire Musselman squad after enduring losses in the championship match in back-to-back seasons.Two years ago, the Applemen had three ineligible players for the state tournament and lost to Spring Valley in the finals. Last season, Lord was dealing with an injury and Musselman got swept in the final by George Washington."Two years ago, the kids got suspended, and [Lord] felt the need to carry the team, along with Taylor Allen," Martz said. "Then, with the injury, she had to feel like it's always something."Things went really smooth this year."There was something different about this year's state championship match for Lord, who felt fully confident the Applemen were going to come through with a title."There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win. We were prepared," Lord said. "Mentally, we had visualized the night before, the morning of, in the locker room before the game, it was going to be our game.
"I'm sure people in the crowd could tell, like, we were going for it. Once we got on a roll, we didn't stop."The Applemen rolled through most of their competition this season, finishing with a 44-6 record and going undefeated against in-state teams. Lord had five games of 20-plus kills, including a season-best 23 against James Wood (Va.).She's on pace to become Musselman's all-time leader in kills and could reach the 2,000-kill mark if she maintains her current pace. She's third in program history with 1,428 kills."If she stays healthy, she'll pass the kills mark," Martz said. "She has a good shot at 2,000 kills, and we've never had that here."Lord got right back to work the day after the state tournament, participating in tryouts for her travel team. She'll spend the next several months trying to get better for next season."If you're not getting better, you're getting worse," she said.
This season couldn't have been much better.