WILLIAMS, Ariz. - The Williams High School (WHS) volleyball team finished its season Oct. 18 at home with a double-header loss to the Mohave Thunderbirds (5-10) from Bullhead City, Ariz. Mohave won the first match in a very closely contested five sets (20-25, 25-19, 14-25, 27-25, 15-11), then easily won the second match in three sets (26-24, 25-22, 25-19).
The two losses on senior night dropped the Lady Vikes' overall regular season record to 9-9 for the year. This night also marked Jennifer Carter's final game as Williams head volleyball coach.
"Through the two matches we had against Mohave April Zicopolous probably had 14 or 15 blocks, she was unstoppable that night," said Carter, praising the play of the junior middle blocker. "I think that might have been the best game she has ever had."
Two days prior, Oct. 16, the Lady Vikes went on the road and defeated the Mayer Wildcats (7-15) in a double-header. Williams won both matches against Mayer in three sets (25-23, 25-14, 25-6 and 25-23, 25-18, 25-19).
"They played their hearts out all season, and I'm very happy with the 9-9 ending because it's miles above last year," Carter said. "All season long we continued to get better and the girls all got along, we never had any problems this year. We held our own against just about everybody we played, nobody walked over us this year."
After seven years though, Carter decided it was time to step down.
"The memories I take with me are the girls, that's the hardest part, during the season they're family," said Carter. "Almost 95 percent of the time they take precedence over my regular family, they take it over my job, they are my family. Those girls were just amazing."
Carter said her volleyball life is not over though; she just won't be coaching anymore. She intends to still go to games as a fan and even help out the new head coach if asked.
Taking over next year will be assistant coach Heather Walker. Walker brings five years of coaching experience with her, including this past season as Carter's assistant. She was an assistant coach briefly in Colorado for a couple years and at Flagstaff High for one year.
"I couldn't have asked for a better assistant coach this year, I am so happy that she's taking over. She's young, she has that tenacity, and she has that discipline," Carter said. "I think she's going to take this team further than I ever took it."
Walker said she plans on instilling a new volleyball program beginning next year at both the high school and middle school levels that Carter thinks will drastically improve all current and future volleyball players in Williams.
Next season will be Walker's first year as a head coach and she said she loves being both a teacher and a coach.
"This is my second year teaching at WHS and I am just really looking forward to continue being a teacher-coach," said Walker. "I love the dual role and getting to know the kids both as students and as athletes."
Walker added that she is anticipating another big year next season, especially with the improvement the team has already made from last year.
"We have some great girls coming back, some great leaders," Walker said. "Jen Carter left me big shoes to fill, but this year has been awesome working with her and learning her coaching style. She's been patient with me in teaching me how the program works here at the school. I'm excited to take my philosophy and mesh it with what she has taught me."
Originally from Phoenix, Walker now lives in Williams and said she loves being here and this is the ideal time to be a part of WHS athletics because of all the positive changes that are happening to the athletic program.
The WHS volleyball team will be recognized at the fall sports banquet, to which a permanent date and time has not yet been specified.