Lady Devils’ state championship part of a long string of successes
Pat Moughon isn’t one to blow her own horn. So, let’s do a little horn blowing for her.
In her 14 seasons as Mathews High School volleyball coach, her Lady Devils have won nine Tidewater District titles, seven Region A championships, made appearances in eight state tournaments, advanced five times to the VHSL semifinals at the VCU Siegel Center, were state runners-up in 2010 and, have just finished their second season as state champions.
Since taking the reins from Jeff Bohn in 1999, Moughon’s teams have never suffered a losing season and have compiled an incredible 276-60 record.
Catching up with her last Wednesday morning, it was obvious that Moughon was still a little exhausted, both physically and emotionally, from the previous weekend’s Group A Division 2 tournament, where her girls pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind win in Saturday’s championship game over Stuarts Draft.
"I keep pinching myself," she said, as the significance of winning back-to-back state championships begins to sink in.
"At the start of the season, I knew it was a possibility," Moughon said of the Lady Devils repeating as state champion. But, at the same time, she knew it would be far from easy, that the team had to stay healthy, focused and unified. Along the way, "we’ve had our ups and downs," she said, but, in the end, the girls pulled together when it counted.
"They are talented," Moughon said of the 14 young ladies on her team. But they also came to the volleyball court with a great deal of experience, especially seniors Rachel Close, Maddie McCann and Moughon’s own daughter, Mackenzie, who plays the sport year-round at the club level. Another senior, Shelby Ware, proved to be a vital asset as setter. "She runs that offense extremely well," Moughon said of Ware.
While those girls comprised the nucleus of this year’s team, every player on that squad played a key role in winning the state championship trophy, Moughon said. Even the girls who didn’t get a lot of game time made crucial contributions, keeping the starters on their toes in some intense practice sessions. Girls on the bench also provided another set of eyes for the players on the court, shouting "out" when a ball is going out of the court. "That’s a team point," Moughon said.
The scorekeeper even got a key point in a close game against York, when she noticed that the opposing coach had called one too many timeouts. The statistician provided Moughon with information on which of her players had a hot hand. "I try real hard to include everybody," she said.
"They have drive … and that’s something you can’t make in a player," Moughon said of her state champion girls. "It’s a personality trait. You can’t create that as a coach."