With volleyball season just around the corner, two local players are gearing up for what they hope will be a continuation of a successful 2020 campaign.
Maggie Boyd and Ifenna Cos-Okpalla helped lead Marcus High School to a playoff berth last year, and are looking to help the Lady Marauders pick up right where they left off.
Marcus finished in third place in a tough district 6-6A in 2020 and lost to eventual regional semifinalist Denton Guyer in the bi-district round.
Coach Danielle Barker said she will rely heavily on Boyd and Cos-Okpalla to help lead the way for Marcus this coming season.
“Both Maggie and Ifenna bring a higher level of play to the team,” Barker said. “They have both competed on the national stage and have both won a national championship (Boyd in beach volleyball and Cos-Okpalla in indoor volleyball).”
Last season, Cos-Okpalla led the district in blocks with 93 (1.15 per set), and Boyd had 245 digs and a team high of 308 kills.
Both players were all-district selections.
Boyd, 17, said while she is mostly satisfied with how things unfolded in 2020, she does believe her team is capable of more.
“I was proud of myself for how I performed during big games, and I was proud of my team for how we handled various challenges during the season,” Boyd said. “We accomplished so much last year but I feel like we still have a lot to prove.”
For 2021, Boyd said she has a few objectives.
“I really just want to enjoy my 2021 season,” Boyd said. “This will be the last time for me to play indoors, so I want to take full advantage of every game. I really hope our team can finish high in district and make a playoff run.”
In order to make the postseason, the senior outside hitter said it will take three things.
“I think one of the main things we need for success is connection on and off the court,” Boyd said. “We need to work a lot with the new girls so everyone knows where to be on offense and defense. We also need to know each others’ strengths and weaknesses so we can help one another if someone is struggling.”
Cos-Okpalla agrees with Boyd about what it will take to claim a playoff spot, but added one more component.
“I feel like it will take all of the players buckling down and having a tough mindset going into the season, believing we can do whatever it takes,” Cos-Okpalla said.
The incoming senior and middle blocker said she, too, was pleased with her effort in 2020 for the most part, but added that there was also a bit of disappointment for her.
“I think I performed well overall,” Cos-Okpalla said. “I can’t say that I’m satisfied with how last season ended, though, because the team was stacked with talented players, but we couldn’t make it far in the playoffs.”
Cos-Okpalla, 16, said is going to do her best to set a good example for her younger teammates this coming season.
“I’m excited to take on a leadership role as a senior next season,” Cos-Okpalla said. “I think it will be good time to focus on the more technical aspects of the game.”
Barker said she would like for Boyd and Cos-Okpalla to work on a few areas this season.
“I would like for them to continue to perfect their skills and grow more in their leadership roles,” Barker said. “They will be the ones we look to in the pressure situations, and they need to be ready to excel in those moments.”
Boyd and Cos-Okpalla will continue to play volleyball at the college level, with Boyd headed to UCLA to play beach volleyball and Cos-Okpalla attending Texas A&M.
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