There were some incredible stats, honors and accomplishments surrounding the Philip Simmons High School volleyball team for the just-completed 2020 season.
But the one that really stands out is that the Iron Horses had four players make all-region 6-AA. They included Maya Gerding, Kate Johnson, Julia Wood and Peyton Trivolet. The four had a combined GPA average of 4.974 on a weighted scale.
“The girls are so smart,” said coach Jay Watterworth, whose team finished the season with a 15-2 record, reaching the Class AA Lower State championship. “It helps us out that they understand the game. I have some pretty smart girls. Fortunately, the sport I coach has girls who do well in school. That translates into success on the court.”
Johnson is ranked No. 2 in the senior class, according to Watterworth, while Wood is ranked No. 2 in the junior class.
Johnson and Gerding, both members of the Class of 2021, earned all-state honors as well.
Gerding had 55 aces, 116 kills and a .345 hitting percentage. Johnson, who has been with the program for four years, tallied 27 blocks and 81 kills. She had a .387 hitting percentage.
“Maya is a two-time all-state selection,” Watterworth said. “She will leave as the school’s all-time career leader in kills and hitting percentage and second in digs and aces. We will have huge holes to fill. She’s been the go-to person on the team for two straight years.”
Watterworth also had high praise for Johnson, who showed improvement every year.
“She’s developed and improved so much ... She doesn’t make too many mistakes,” Watterworth said.
Wood, who made all-region, recorded 109 digs and 46 aces, while Trivolet, the freshman, recorded 110 digs.
Watterworth attended North Greenville University, where he became involved in intramural volleyball. After graduating, Watterworth returned to Charleston and began his teaching career at Goose Creek High School, where he served as the head coach for 10 years. He guided the Gators to six playoff appearances.
He was named coach of the Iron Horses in 2017, steadily turning the program into one of the best Class AA teams in the state, and the program should continue to be on the upswing in 2021.
Watterworth says he’s just like any other coach when he talks about next year. He’s making a list of returners who could finally get to the state championship. He also has a good handle on the young players on the team.
“I have four or five sophomores who played on the junior varsity team that lost only one match this season,” Watterworth said. “They took Bishop England to five sets in their only loss. The junior varsity did more than you could ask for. I’m just as excited for next year as I was this year.”