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Junior Sam Mohammed moved from middle hitter to outside hitter with the HK volleyball team this fall and has recorded 109 kills thus far on the season. (Photo courtesy of Sam Mohammed )
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When Sam Mohammed arrived at Haddam-Killingworth High School, the only court she was concerned with was the one where the net connects to the backboard. For the past few years, however, Sam has showcased her skills on another floor for the Cougars.
Sam, a junior, came to HK as a basketball player, but decided to give volleyball a chance as a freshman. Sam garnered a bit of varsity experience in that rookie year as the Cougars won both the Shoreline Conference title, plus the Class S State Championship.
This fall, Sam was asked to move from the middle hitter’s position to outside hitter after the graduation of several seniors from the 2015 team. The transition has proved a smooth one for Sam, who’s racked up the numbers in several categories with her 109 kills, 185 service points, 51 aces, and 82 digs, while helping the Cougars earn a 18-0 record thus far.
“Volleyball never crossed my mind, but freshman year was a great experience for me as the seniors really took me in. To go from barely playing as a freshman to starting varsity, it’s been a big jump with a lot of pressure, but I’ve been able to do it,” says Sam. “Moving to the outside was some big shoes to fill. It was a faster pace for me and I have had to cover tips more. I also barely served my sophomore year, but I knew I had to pick it up because I knew the team was depending on me. My coaches and teammates have helped make me who I am now as a player.”
A year-round volleyball player, Sam feels that a great deal of her success comes from some stellar strikers who’ve helped improve the speed of her reflexes.
“I play AAU and they throw me in the back row and that team helped me a lot with my serving,” Sam says. “I have some great hitters around me here at HK and it’s helped me have better reaction time than I had in the middle.”
In terms of providing the Cougars with quality service, Sam knows that the initial toss is crucial in order to send the ball skyrocketing over the net.
“It’s all probably comes down to the toss. It’s everything. It makes your serves go either under or over the net. I learned that the hard way as a freshman. You have to make sure the toss is perfect,” Sam says. “I like to drop the ball before the serve to help me be relaxed because it’s all on me with the serve. I also like to cross over with my body to help with the jump serves.”
Cougars’ Head Coach Robin Callender says that Sam brings an A-plus work ethic, along with an exemplary attitude to the Cougars. Callender also appreciates how seamlessly Sam has made the move from the middle to the outside.
“Sam continues to be a dedicated, enthusiastic, and well-balanced team player for HK. She always gives 100 percent during practices and games. Sam is down to earth and focuses on being a positive role model and team player first. It’s all about her teammates. However, she continues to be a consistent, all-around player for HK,” says Callender. “This year we moved Sam from the middle hitting position to an outside hitter and she has blossomed in that position. She is playing real smart, not forcing hits when the sets aren’t at the right location. Sam has been our most consistent server and continues to rack up service points, along with aces. We needed for Sam to play defense and she has been on point with her passes on serve receive and defense. We are depending on Sam to continue to challenge herself to become more forceful at the net to take our offense to a higher level.”
The Cougars have put themselves in prime position to repeat their postseason feats from two years ago and Sam feels that HK’s strong team chemistry will play a pivotal part in that mission.
“We are putting the final touches together, but we know who plays with whom the best,” says Sam, who thanks her all of her teammates. “We’ve just been finding what makes us click a lot quicker than other teams and we are ready for Shorelines and states.”
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