How “hot” is the Dallas-Fort Worth (aka, the Metroplex) area for great Texas high school volleyball?
Simple – the UIL state championships are held in Garland (just north of Dallas) every November.
Add to that the fact 10 of the 24 teams who competed in the 2018 UIL State Tournament were from around the Metroplex area. Oh – and two more state qualifiers were within a two-hour drive of Dallas.
One of the Metroplex area teams at state was Plano West, headed by first-year head coach Justin Waters.
And one of the star players for the Lady Wolves was 6-foot-2 junior hitter Iman Ndiaye, who helped power Waters’ squad to Plano West’s first-ever state tournament appearance.
Ndiaye, who’s already committed to play for Penn State after her high school career is over, was thrilled to earn a Bronze medal with her teammates. However, just a few weeks later, Ndiaye scored a “Gold” after she was voted the winner of the high-profile VYPE DFW Player of the Year Award.
The powerful hitter grabbed 32,626 votes (20.7% of the votes cast), outdistancing Jadyn Bauss of Frisco Reedy (24,184 votes), Annie Frances Sullivan of Richardson Pearce (13,175) and Courtney Walters of McKinney Boyd (12,732). The poll earned one of the highest vote totals in 2018 for VYPE, garnering 157,785 ballots.
“I was thrilled to win that voting,” stated Ndiaye, who led the VYPE poll from Day One and never relinquished the lead in winning the five-day poll wire-to-wire. “I can’t believe I was in first place on the very first day! It was amazing!”
Then, smiling, she added, “I’m lucky to have such good friends.”
Among those friends, Ndiaye wanted to highlight her relationship with her family – in particular, her mother, her brother and sister (both of whom are older). “They’ve been my (support system) since I came here from Senegal,” Ndiaye revealed.
Iman (pronounced ee-MON) was born in France and moved to Senegal before moving to the Dallas area at age 4. It didn’t take her long to show her great athleticism.
“My sister played club volleyball,” Ndiaye explained. “I would go watch her and enjoyed it. Volleyball is very competitive and requires team effort. I really like that; I started playing club volleyball as soon as I could.”
She added, “Of course, it helps I’m a little tall.”
Her coach said Iman’s height is a “small” factor in her success on the court.
“She’s amazing,” Waters declared. “She’s ‘volleyball’ smart; she’s driven, she works as hard as anyone. She really buys into the ‘team effort’ concept.
“Her hard work really paid off; Iman really improved her game this season. In fact, other coaches were telling me how they noticed how she improved over last season. It was a great compliment to her and her hard work.”
Ndiaye was just as complementary about Waters, who actually started the season as an assistant coach before the previous head coach left the team one match into the 2018 season.
“Coach Waters taking over had a big impact on the team,” she stated. “He was such a positive influence on us; the players worked together well and our (team) chemistry improved as the season moved on. We enjoyed playing for him this year!”
Ndiaye must have enjoyed it – she racked up quite the hardware for her efforts.
Besides helping her team to a state semifinal berth, the talented junior was named to the TGCA (Texas Girls Coaches Association) all-state team; she was named to the Dallas Morning News DFW All-Area first team; and, she earned K-MAC Sports/VYPE Media All-State Honorable Mention honors, among other post-season honors.
And that, my friends, was just her junior year. Like Waters, we can’t wait to see what she does her senior season.