Northwest senior gains insight on team concept in club play

Posted Monday, Jul. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The finality of the fall is coming. Kayla Knaust knows there’s nothing she can do about it. But the senior-to-be right side hitter at Northwest is reveling in the experience of what it’s meant to be lifer for a volleyball program that’s developing some consistency.

Knaust is about to be a four-year starter for the program. In some ways, the journey from being a shy freshman has taken its normal time. In other ways, it’s flown by really fast.

“I think I’ve really learned about what the team concept means,” Knaust said. “I’ve heard about the concept but didn’t take it as seriously. But when you really get it about a team being like a family, it sinks in.”

A third-party presentation made an impact. As her club team Tejas Volleyball played in the national tournament at the Dallas Convention Center a couple of weeks ago, former pro Gary Walker, who played with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, addressed the players about the value in being a real team, where picking each other up and recognizing the greater good is all-important.

Tejas Volleyball wound up winning its bracket in the tournament and finished among the top 30 teams. It wasn’t the result the squad was looking for, but these tournaments are also designed to bring in college coaches who are looking to fill their next recruiting class.

The 5-10 Knaust is talking to Division II Cameron University in Oklahoma. She has an offer and plans taking an unofficial visit there in August. She’s also has Division I interest from Texas State in San Marcos.

Playing a role in Northwest’s growth has had its ups and downs. The Lady Texans made the postseason in her freshman and sophomore years but missed in her junior year. Heavy graduation losses present a lot of questions about this team’s ability to get to the postseason.

That’s where Knaust’s maturity and intensity are vital.

“The intensity from club and speed of the game are things that I’ve more comfortable with,” she said. “I really want to be more of a leader on the court. That’s going to be big when we’re down a couple of points. We’re going to be mixing a lot of new players but all of us have to work together.”

Her passion to play has never suffered. It may even have surged recently. In the spring of 2012, Knaust couldn’t play soccer for about two months because of an undisclosed illness. While she has since recovered and said she’s at 100 percent, the time away was beyond frustrating.

“I didn’t lose my passion to play, but I know it was a reality check,” she said. “I knew this is the sport I’ve always wanted to play. Once I got into the gym, I worked twice as hard to get back and I think I became a better competitor.”

The high school volleyball season begins with workouts on Aug. 5. There are four seniors returning. Mixing in a good number of players from the 2012 junior varsity will take some time. Knaust knows that month will be critical for them to gel.

“We don’t know these girls coming up from the JV because we haven’t played with them,” Knaust said. “But with two-a-days and preseason and if we make the commitment, we can be a good team.”

Head coach Dayna Horak said Knaust will play an important role in this year’s efforts.

“Kayla’s been playing on the varsity since her freshman year and has been in the playoffs two out of the last three years, just missing the playoffs last season by one game. Her experience and leadership will be invaluable to this year’s team,” Horak said.

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