History has a way of repeating itself.
In 2009, Mansfield won a state championship in volleyball led by the hard-hitting of senior Cheyenne Derr, the Most Valuable Player of the state tournament. In 2012, Mansfield won another title and this time the MVP was junior Kaylie Pyles.
Derr, now a senior at Henderson State University, served as a coach in Junior Olympic volleyball during the summer and connected with Pyles. Derr is planning to stay on as an assistant coach at Henderson next year and helped recruit Pyles, who has orally committed. Pyles also plans to go into coaching eventually.
“I didn’t know Cheyenne that well when she was here at Mansfield because I was just in the eighth grade,” Pyles said. “I had just started really getting into volleyball. She helped me a lot over the summer and helped introduce me to the coaches and campus at Henderson State. She is almost like another mother to me now.”
Mansfield coach April Howell said Pyles, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter, has outstanding jumping ability, timing and all the intangibles to lead the team to another title.
“Kaylie has great natural skills, but she has put in a lot of hard work on her own, too, to make herself a great player,” Howell said. “And while she leads us in kills, she is a good passer, makes digs and gets her teammates involved, too. She is an all-around player and very humble.”
Pyles averages well into double digits in kills per match, but also shares the load with Mansfield’s other top attackers, Erin Reano and Mallory Ward, who both average around double digits in kills.
“My job is to make sure everyone is involved in the offense,” Pyles said. “Whether that is hitting, blocking or passing whatever it takes to win.”
Howell, who was also an All-State volleyball player at Mansfield, said Pyles even reminds her a bit of the way Derr played.
“They have a similar in style and the way they hit,” Howell said. “Both of them are very versatile players and can do a lot of different things on the court.”
Pyles wants to make history with her teammates.
“We were runner-up as sophomores, then won last year so our goal is to repeat as champions as seniors,” Pyles said. “No Mansfield team has done that before so we could make history.”