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New kid on the block
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The Eastside Volleyball team managed four victories in 2007. So far in 12 matches, the Lady Eagles have already surpassed last year's win total. Freshman Katie Johnston is a big reason why.

Johnston helped her team to a 2-2 record last week in two tri-matches, both on the road. For the week, Johnston tallied six blocks, six kills, five aces, two tips and two digs. Her well-rounded performance has Eastside poised for success in 2008 and earned her recognition as the Covington News/Johnny's Pizza Prep Athlete of the Week.

Johnston, a 6-foot freshman, recently moved from Norcross where she attended private school. Although it's her first year playing volleyball at Eastside, she's played for five years prior to her move. So far, that experience has helped the Lady Eagles exceed last year's record.

"I love it here," Johnston said. "The first day of tryouts I was kind of scared coming in, but everyone has been very nice. The team really likes each other."

Johnston currently plays middle hitter but she has played all positions on the court including setter. One of her strengths is her all-around game. Of course, being close to 6-foot-1 doesn't hurt.

"I'm a freshman and I'm 6-foot tall. I kind of want to say there," she said. "Right now I'm playing middle and I like that. I've done everything and I like attacking better."

With a 5-7 overall record, the Lady Eagles look good heading into the bulk of their region schedule. Coach Angie Lewis said choosing just one of her players thus far is tough as she has also received solid play from Gabe Parker and Antonia Mullins. But Johnston's play has had a definite impact on the overall performance of the team. What's more, with five years under her belt, Johnston is proof of what a feeder system in the county's middle schools could produce.

Johnston feels the key to her team's success so far has been chemistry, something she has learned from in the past. For her, teamwork means more than personal agendas.

"I heard we had some people who didn't like each other in the past and I know from experience, if you don't like someone on your team, you won't play well together," she said. "We all like each other and we're here to play volleyball and we go out there to have fun."

As well as the Lady Eagles have played so far, Johnston wants to improve on things. She hopes to add a jump serve to her game. She said she nails the serve in practice daily but has yet to implement it during a game. But above the personal goals, Johnston hopes to keep improving and feels the Lady Eagles can have a winning season.

"Hopefully we will end the season with more wins than loses," she said. "We have a lot of things to work on.

"We are good the way we are but I can see us getting much better. We just need to work more as a group and learn to play together a little more."