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Two coaches are better than one for Lady Flyers

By aalvarado
Nov. 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Updated Nov. 2, 2012 at 6:02 a.m.

St. Joseph volleyball coach Allyson Griffin hugs Peyton Cuellar, left, while reaching to pull Carly Boles into a hug after the Flyers defeated Austin St. Dominic Savio Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph High School. The win made the Flyers the TAPPS District 3-4A Champions.

St. Joseph co-volleyball coach Alvin Mumphord stood in the school gym 18 hours before the Lady Flyers play in the TAPPS 4A state semifinals and reflected on his time as a volleyball coach.

He mentioned that the 2012 Lady Flyers are more than the sum of their parts and other state tournament teams had one or two superstars.

He was quickly interrupted by a shout from the other end of the gym provided by co-coach Allyson Griffin.

"One of them was me," Griffin said and Mumphord broke out into laughter.

The two coaches provide a link between the St. Joseph volleyball program's recent past and its present. All four state qualifying teams have had one, the other and in this case both individuals help them to state.

As a junior, Griffin helped the Lady Flyers reach the state tournament for the first time in 1999 while Mumphord was a varsity assistant in 2006 and 2009.

St. Joseph plays TAPPS 3-4A rival Austin St. Dominic Savio in the semifinals at the Blossum Center in San Antonio on Friday.

"It's really nerve-racking, but I think we're ready," said junior outside hitter and defensive specialist Lauren Kurtz. "We've been having hard practices and show all the hard work we've put in all season and show what we've done."

Griffin graduated from St. Joseph in 2001 and has been on the volleyball program's coaching staff the last nine years.

"(It was) overwhelming because we were the first team to go," Griffin said. "I think progressively each time a team has gone, it's gotten better.

" I think these guys have a better advantage going on because they know who they're playing and they've already played them."

A trip to the St. Joseph's tournament to watch his younger sister play for Bloomington in 1998 drew Mumphord to the school.

Then St. Joseph coach Victoria Gonzales, who knew Mumphord from living in Bloomington, went up to him and convinced him to try coaching the freshman team that season.

"I was supposed to stay for a year and then my sister transferred her sophomore year and I stayed with her. One year turned into 15," Mumphord said with a smile.

He said having two head coaches on the bench allows the team to have two different perspectives.

The girls have noticed how Griffin and Mumphord infuse their own personalities to coaching.

"I think we need both of those to give us reassurance in what we need to do correctly," said junior libero Peyton Cuellar.

There are times during games when Griffin will call a timeout, have a serious look on her face and be extremely vocal when communicating her adjustments. Mumphord will follow with a calmer demeanor and some reassurance.

Other times, the role switches.

"It's a good balance, the good cop, bad cop thing," Mumphord said. "And then there are some times we are both the bad cops and we've got to go in and tear it all up."

Offensively, the superstar-less Lady Flyers have used a multitude of hitters to keep opposing defenses on their heels.

Kurtz leads the team with 270 kills, but Carly Boles, Analise Ybarbo and Lindsey Still each have at least 221.

"It's a good feeling because I know I can trust each one of them to get those kills," said junior setter Natalie Bales.

"There's not that one girl where you think you've got to get the ball to her," Griffin added. "These guys are so well rounded."

Bales comes into the state tournament leading the team with 934 assists while Cuellar is tops on the Lady Flyers with 505 digs. Ybarbo has been a defensive presence with 212 blocks while Kalyn Hempel has 51 aces.

Earlier this year, Savio swept St. Joseph in the regular season matchup. The Lady Flyers won a five-game match at home in the district tournament.

The Lady Flyers have won nine straight since losing in Austin. Overall St. Joseph is 32-5.

Two wins will give the Lady Flyers their first volleyball state championship.

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