Darien's Taylor piles up volleyball awards
Published 9:05 pm, Tuesday, January 27, 2015
DARIEN -- For Isabelle Taylor and the Darien girls volleyball team, the accolades just keep piling up.
The Blue Wave won both the FCIAC and State championships in the 2014 season, dropping just two sets the entire year. With a resume like that it was inevitable for the hardware to start piling up post-season.
Taylor, an outside hitter who amassed 304 kills, 179 digs, 37 blocks and 36 service aces was voted the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year while also being named to MaxPrep's All-American Underclass Team.
"I thought it was just such an amazing honor and I was shocked since I'm a junior," Taylor said of winning the Player of the Year award for the state. "It was definitely helpful that we had won the State and FCIAC championships; it was an award that I was given but I never would have gotten it without my whole team behind me."
The Blue Wave effort may have been led by Taylor, but it was no one-woman show. Senior setter Celia Martzolf recently was a recipient of the Connecticut Official's Award highlighting her team's mentality, along with her 675 assists. Those two and Claire Naughton were all voted to the All-Southwestern CT team at the end of the season.
"Not only her personal ability to play but her ability to raise the level of play around her," Darien coach Laurie LaRusso said of what makes Taylor so special. "She definitely elevated the game for the rest of the team and she has a passion for the game that's contagious."
More InformationIzzy Taylor File
Position: Outside hitter
Service points: 36
Awards: Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year ... Max Prep's All-American Underclass Team ... Hearst Connecticut Media MVP
That teamwork mentality is something that was preached all season to the Blue Wave and Taylor says the `togetherness' of the team was the driving force behind its success.
"I think everyone was a Player of the Year on our team," Taylor said. "Everyone worked the same every single day; I don't think there's one person in our gym that doesn't have an extreme passion for the sport and on the court we just mesh."
That ability to communicate and work through issues on the court is, in LaRusso's opinion, part of what made this Blue Wave so successful. At times LaRusso would be ready to call a timeout but would look at her captains and trust them to work through the problems on their own, a nice luxury for a coach to have.
"We just can rely on each other for everything," Taylor said of the bond between her and her teammates. "If we go through adversity in a game we look to each other, and when we do we know we can get through it. We go through hard practices together and if we can do that then we can get through the next few points. We've been in every pressure situation so we rely on the bond that you build with your teammates for tough situations like that."
That mentality and ability of the Blue Wave was crucial to LaRusso during the postseason matches the Wave played in, especially the finals.
"I never felt at any point in time during our season that things were out of control," LaRusso said of her faith in her leaders. "Even when in the finals we were down 11-3 and I had already used my second timeout, I think one of the things we had was trust in each other, I relied on my captains a great deal to give me a read."
Taylor currently is keeping her volleyball skills at their peak by playing for a national club travel team. As a junior she would like to continue to play in college, but isn't yet sure of where she will attend. For now her focus is on getting better and making another title run next year, an experience she says is unlike any other.
"As the season went on the games got longer and harder," Taylor said. "But I think Blue Wave volleyball is just about togetherness and the aspect of being really close with your teammates, who are your second family. As the season goes on the bonds become even stronger and as all of the numbers add up, all the passes and serves you make in practice, your passion grows for the game and you're not going to let anything get in the way."