06/12/10 — Taylor Johnson headed to Peace College

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Taylor Johnson headed to Peace College

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 12, 2010 11:32 PM

Exceptional ability.

Team leader.

A positive example.

Rosewood coach Jennifer Cochran used those phrases which aptly describe senior Taylor Johnson, a three-sport athlete who has signed to play volleyball this fall at Peace College in Raleigh.

Johnson received 19 offers from colleges and universities on different levels, but chose to stay close to home. And she didn't reveal her choice until Peace hired Kevin Daniels, who previously coached in the Wayne Area Volleyball Enthusiasts (WAVE) organization, to take over the Pacers' program.

"It was really based on the coach there," said Johnson, who graduated with honors on Friday. "He is someone I can see myself playing for and someone I can really learn from. Everyone I talked to thought Peace would be a good fit for me, and so did I.

"Once I visited, I knew it was for me."

A four-year starter in volleyball, Johnson earned All-Carolina Conference honors each season. She helped lead the Eagles to a share of the 2010 regular-season championship, and a third-round trip to the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A playoffs.

Rosewood lost to eventual state champ Pender.

"Even though she is successful in every sport she participates, Taylor's heart is with volleyball," said Cochran. "She is a player who has provided a lot of leadership, determination and desire to win. She is a very special individual who not only understands the game of volleyball, but truly understands the definition of a team.

"Her passion of the game, her improvement and her intensity on and off the court will be remembered for a long time."

Johnson joins a program has steadily progressed in the Division III USA South Conference. The Pacers captured a program-best eight league wins last season -- a vast improvement from one victory in USA South play in 2006.

Peace finished 13-19 overall in 2009.

A Mount Olive College graduate, Daniels has managed the Pacers' non-traditional season and implemented plyometrics into the team's workout plan. The scheme involves strengthening and conditioning all the muscles, and avoids concentration on specific areas of the body.

Players will move in a week before school starts and go through two-a-day practices.

"I have already gotten my summer workout plan," said Johnson. "When I visited, he had me talk to two players and I asked about the workouts. They said it's really hard the first two weeks and you will get used to it.

"But, they said it will be harder if you don't do the summer workout plans."

Johnson played middle hitter for the Eagles, but is expected to move to the outside spot with the Pacers. Daniels hopes to keep Johnson the floor for a majority of the fast-paced, rally-scoring matches.

Johnson says her consistency as a player must improve.

"I hit one ball straight to the floor and then hit one out ... same thing goes with serving, too," said Johnson. "I think sometimes I start thinking too much and it goes better for me when I just do it. Whenever I get to thinking and want it so bad, I start playing outside myself.

"I have to know that it's not just me out there and that I'll have other people backing me up. I won't have to play outside my boundaries."