When the Mansfield Timberview volleyball team needs a lift or a rally, it’s normally asking middle blocker Katelyn Nwonumah to sic ’em.
There’s no dog involved, but with Katelyn’s No. 9 jersey, the K-9 nickname stuck.
Nwonumah said she’s had the number since she started playing, and she has become the Timberview’s go-to on-court leader. As she’s grown in confidence since becoming a starter last year, her teammates have looked to the leader of the pack to guide the Lady Wolves.
“They do look up to me for certain things, because I know what to expect,” Nwonumah said of her leadership role. “I can help guide them and tell them what to keep their eyes open for on the court.”
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Timberview head coach Beth Wills knows they expect a lot from Nwonumah, too.
It seems like last week we started and began talking about all our goals, and now it’s time to put them into action.
“There’s a lot of pressure for that position [middle blocker]. She’s needed in every blocking situation defensively, and then to transition into a quick attack offensively,” Wills said.
Admitting that she’s a vocal person to start with, Nwonumah said she’s been able to translate that characteristic to a positive influence for her squad.
“I think that when we’re down, they always seem to count on me to put a point down and bring back the momentum,” she said.
That type of leadership and improved play has poised Timberview to make a run toward a playoff spot this season. After a four-game loss to Duncanville, the 5-11 Lady Wolves are looking toward to a challenging start to the District 10-5A schedule against Lake Ridge and then hosting Waxahachie.
Nwonumah said this is the week the team has been mentally preparing for since July.
“It seems like last week we started and began talking about all our goals, and now it’s time to put them into action,” she said.
For the 5-10 Nwonumah, her hitting has been one of the key areas she feels she’s improved since last season.
“I feel like sometimes have made a weak tip when I have the potential to really hit the ball,” she said. “I’ve definitely improved on that since the first of the season.”
Her confidence appears to be contagious as she said the whole team is working together better and more efficiently than last year.
“She’s been a team leader in every aspect so far, and I see her influence and strength continuing to lead us this season,” Wills added. “We also lean on her competitive fire and tenacity — her refusal to lose or quit.”
While Timberview lost six seniors,it has five returning starters, including the K-9 junior.
Much of the work on the court has come in a relatively short period of time, as Nwonumah has been playing volleyball for just about six years. When she picked up on the sport in a gym, she fell in love with it and has been at it ever since.
She also runs track for the Lady Wolves and the athleticism runs in the family. That includes her two older brothers and two younger sisters.
One brother plays soccer at Harding University while the younger siblings are also showing a bent toward athletics All four are sometimes found running 5k events in the area.
But this season is just one of the opportunities Nwonumah is eyeing for success.
While she has already received interest in playing at the next level, Nwonumah said her sights will be on majoring in biology and then moving on to medical school. There, she wants to pursue a career as an anesthesiologist, like her mother.
“My mom and her whole side of the family is in medicine,” she said.
And with her dogged determination, look for Nwonumah to check that off her list, too.