Young Lady Cougar Amanda ‘Mandy’ Murphy had an outstanding season on the volleyball court – and her efforts did not go unnoticed.
“Mandy received Highest Honorable Mention as being one of the top freshmen playing varsity volleyball in the country,” said Escalon head coach Teresa Williamson.
The freshman spent much of the season as an outside hitter for Escalon and earned recognition as part of a nationwide program, FROSH 59, which lists the most outstanding high school varsity freshman players based on the fall 2018 campaign.
“Starting in November of 2018 we sent out word to high school and club coaches across the land that we were looking for the best high school freshmen in the United States,” the listing noted. “Unlike our Senior Aces and Top 50 Juniors, which are recruiting lists, or our Watch Lists, which are for the Club world, this is a high school list, based exclusively on accomplishment at the varsity prep level last fall.”
Murphy, listed at five feet, 11 inches, turned in some outstanding all around numbers for the Lady Cougars, who battled their way to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. She had 398 kills, 214 digs, 46 aces and 31 blocks for the varsity squad, which compiled a 25-11 record.
“It feels good,” Mandy admitted of the recognition, noting that she didn’t necessarily think she would be considered for such an honor.
She has played for Rage Volleyball Club and Pacific Coast, as well as playing on the El Portal teams in seventh and eighth grade. And though she said she wasn’t certain she would make the varsity team as a freshman, she did “try really hard” to showcase her skills during tryouts and practices.
That was enough to earn her a spot on the varsity roster and she became a key piece of the successful Lady Cougar squad.
“I like when we’re neck and neck with a team, you have to give it your all,” she said of what she enjoys most about the sport.
She also is hopeful for the future of the Escalon team, which had just two seniors on the roster this past season.
“Losing Meadow (Naraghi) and Leila (Phillips) is big but we still have a lot of juniors and a lot of good freshmen and sophomores,” Mandy said. “I think we’re going to keep growing.”
To be considered for the Frosh 59 list, a freshman needed to be a varsity starter and one of the top talents in her area during the fall season.
The Frosh 59 comprises the top varsity achievements of 2018 freshmen, with more than 250 additional freshman standouts – including Murphy – named to the Highest Honorable Mention, Special Mention and Honorable Mention categories.
“I think my favorite part about this is that it shows that small schools can still be recognized on a big stage,” said Lorie Murphy, Mandy’s mom. “We let Mandy choose where she wanted to attend high school, and she chose Escalon because she loved Coach Teresa Williamson, hoped she might have a chance to make her varsity team, and she loved the school spirit, student support and hometown school environment. I am really happy about what this honor says for Escalon Athletics and hope that it shows any future athletes on the fence about where to go that you don’t need to be in a big school or large district to get noticed.”