A state title contender will return for another run at a championship while a pair of surprise teams have also advanced to the state volleyball playoffs from Cherokee County.
Sequoyah (31-2, 21-1) won its second consecutive region title last week and will enter this week’s state playoffs as the No. 1 team in Maxpreps Class AAAAAA rankings. The Lady Chiefs were state runners-up last fall and return several key pieces from last year’s team. They are riding a 26-match unbeaten streak and should feel confident about its chances moving forward.
“We feel pretty good I think we’re playing well overall,” Sequoyah coach John Edwards said. “With multiple people missing matches throughout the year due to quarantine, physically we’re probably a little fresher than we would be normally. I think that’s a good thing and I think we’ve found a few things in practice that have worked well for us so hopefully, we can continue to utilize those.”
Sequoyah will face Allatoona — the team which defeated the Lady Chiefs in the 2019 state title — in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Sequoyah is set to host Allatoona on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Allatoona (29-7, 8-1) finished fourth in a competitive Region 6AAAAAA — four of the top seven teams in Class AAAAAA — and should be one of the better No. 4 seeds in the state brackets.
“The seeding isn’t indicative of the level of play we’ll expect from Allatoona,” Edwards said. “It’s a different looking team (Allatoona) and I think any time you can play good teams you’re going to get motivated. With the rivalry we had last year against them, our girls are ready to play.”
Allatoona was the more experienced team last fall, but the Lady Chiefs may have that advantage this year.
Senior outside hitter Paige Powers leads Sequoyah in kills with 287 and is second on the team in digs with 212. Sophomores Taylor Pecht and Skylar Martin lead the Lady Chiefs in assist and digs, respectively, and gained valuable experience in Sequoyah’s state playoff run last fall. Sophomores Sara Siefert and Catherine Brumbeloe have also been integral pieces for Sequoyah, while the development of outside hitter Sydney Huyck has helped further deepen the offensive options for the Lady Chiefs.
The state volleyball playoffs will also see a new face this fall in the form of the Cherokee Lady Warriors. Cherokee (22-10, 14-10) finished third in Region 5AAAAAAA and will travel Tuesday to take on Mill Creek (20-10, 4-1), the No. 2 seed out of Region 8. The match will begin at 6:30 p.m. and it will be the first-ever appearance in the state playoffs for Cherokee.
“We’re definitely in uncharted waters,” Cherokee coach Jamie Horton said. “We hope we get a little extended stay this week though.”
Cherokee has been led by its junior outside hitter Faith Breitbarth and freshman outside hitter Brin Chestnut, each first team all-region players. Senior libero Sophia George and freshman outside hitter Sophie Lyen earned second team all-region honors while freshman Jensyn Wiederhold has also been a key piece for the Lady Warriors. After losing five seniors to graduation last spring, a large number of key contributors have been underclassmen for Cherokee.
“We didn’t know quite what the year would hold because we lost those five seniors from last year and with COVID we didn’t get a ton of prep time,” Horton said. “But the longer we played the more the team started to come together. We put a lot of emphasis on the junior program, and to see the kids that started as sixth graders now starting for the varsity, we feel like the future is bright for sure.”
Also coming out of Region 7AAAAAA is Creekview. The Lady Grizzlies (13-13, 6-6), defeated Centennial, Johns Creek and Riverwood to finish third in the region tournament and advance to the state playoffs. The Lady Grizzlies will square off against last year’s AAAAAAA state runner-up Lassiter (16-6, 6-2), the No. 2 seed out of Region 6. The match is set for 6:00 p.m. Wednesday at Lassiter.
Creekview has won four of its last six matches and should feel confident about its form with a strong junior class leading the way. Elle Johnson (372) and Morgan McClure (302) lead the Lady Grizzlies in kills while junior Mackenzie Salas leads Creekview with 51 serving aces and a county-leading 737 assists. Sophia Del Valle leads Creekview with 385 digs.