Franklin’s Success in Volleyball Linked to Many Factors

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Solid coaching, a good work ethic and living up to high standards on and off the court are what contribute to Franklin girls volleyball’s competitive edge.
Issue Date: 
November, 2017
Article Body: 

The Franklin girls’ volleyball team is a study in consistency.
Since Kate Horsmann took the coaching reins in 2005, the Panthers have won four Hockomock League championships and qualified for tourney play all 13 years. The Louisville, Ky., native, who’s lived in Franklin for the last 29 years, has been ultra successful, because she relies on solid coaching tenets, strong core values, and an admirable competitive philosophy.
Another factor in Horsmann’s success is the passion she has for coaching.
“To coach every day and be with the kids is a special feeling,’’ she said. “And, to coach in a town that I now consider my hometown is also special.’’
The 60-year-old Horsmann, who played basketball and volleyball in high school and college (Eastern Kentucky), coached varsity girls basketball teams at Blackstone-Millville and Sharon before taking the reins as the Panthers volleyball coach.
Horsmann is a firm believer that if her players improve individually in a specific area after each practice and each match, then the team benefits. “Skill improvement helps elevate a team,’’ she said. “If we focus on each moment in a match, whether it’s a pass, a hit, a serve or a dig, that builds unity and leads to winning. We also work to develop team chemistry.’’
Horsmann, who doesn’t consider herself a disciplinarian, has rules, lots of them, and they’re followed. “When rules are followed, character is built and that leads to players becoming qual-ity citizens,’’ she emphasized. “We pay attention to our players’ conduct on and off the court. I can be tough, but I don’t have to be a disciplinarian, because the girls adhere to the rules.’’
Horsmann’s teams are successful because they take advantage of their coach being a teacher first. “Volleyball is a thinking game, and it’s imperative to teach the fundamentals,’’ she said. “What’s also important is building a relationship with your players. You want them to respect you.’’
When she assembles a roster, Horsmann looks for specific attributes. She prefers players who are athletic, skilled, resilient, selfless, and mentally tough. A high volleyball IQ is also a key in-gredient. “Girls who are resilient and mentally tough have the ability to bounce back if they make a mistake,’’ she said. “Being a team player is very important, and that leads to good team chemistry.’’
Horsmann’s 2005 squad advanced the farthest in tourney play, getting to the sectional finals where it bowed to Lincoln-Sudbury. That squad finished 21-2. She doesn’t pat herself on the back for that accomplishment or for all the other winning teams she’s molded. She does, how-ever, credit three situations for Franklin’s dynamic success.
“The pool of talent at Franklin is tremendous,’’ she noted. “Secondly, we’ve tried to create a culture of inclusion where everyone is important. And lastly, all three levels of our teams enjoy activities together. Our older kids are mentors to younger players, and the girls take pride in maintaining that culture.’’
This year’s varsity contingent, which is comprised of five seniors and nine juniors, is a talented group that hopes to excel in the tourney and perhaps capture the first sectional title in Hors-mann’s tenure. At Local Town Pages deadline, the Panthers had a 10-3 record.
The three senior captains, who Horsmann calls “a good leadership team,’’ include outside hit-ter Lauren Lockhart, setter Lizzie Boynton and middle hitter Meaghan Maguire. “Lauren hits hard, is positive and is the most vocal player I’ve coached,’’ Horsmann said. “Lizzie has a great attitude and great hands, a technically sound setter. Meaghan is an effective blocker, a smart hitter, and an all-around solid person.’’
The other two seniors, who Horsmann also labels as “top-notch leaders,’’ are defensive spe-cialists Lauren Bissanti and Sydney Ayotte. “Lauren is one of the best passers I’ve coached and Sydney is aggressive and fearless, willing to put her body on the line to get to the ball,’’ Hors-mann noted.
Lauren McGrath has started at setter for two years and is one of nine talented juniors. “Lauren is tremendous on defense, has a very high volleyball IQ and makes the right set,’’ Horsmann said.
Four other key juniors include setter Shannon Gray, libero Riley Marino, and middle hitters Maggie Doyle and Hailey Sanders. “Shannon is quick, smart, coachable and executes well,’’ Horsmann said. “Riley is energetic, skilled and aggressive on the court. Maggie is quick, jumps high, is smart, athletic and mixes her hits well. Hailey is quiet, but she’s athletic and effective on the right side.’’
Four junior hitters, who are versatile contributors, include Ellie Wisniewski, Peyton Arone, Em-ma Clifford and Lily Galluccio. “Ellie is super athletic and is a force when her hits are on,’’ Horsmann said. “She can play in the front or back row. Peyton is a solid passer who hits hard on every attempt and Emma is quick, athletic, a super hard-worker with a great attitude. Lily has improved her passing and her hits and serves are hard.’’
It’s a good bet that Horsmann’s gang of 14 will have a memorable tournament experience. But, whether the Panthers’ playoff appearance is lengthy or brief, there’s no doubt that Kate Hors-mann’s players will be the beneficiaries of competing in a program whose culture breeds good citizenship, character and respect.