CANTON — Sequoyah volleyball coach John Edwards said the Lady Chiefs’ early season success hasn’t come as a total shock, but at the same time he’s been pleasantly surprised up to this point.
“I knew it was a possibility because the kids we had coming back were going to be one year better, and I knew the freshmen that were going to be on the team were going to have a big impact,” Edwards said. “But we definitely weren’t talking about being undefeated up until this past weekend or starting out like we have.”
Despite losing six seniors from last year’s team and relying on four freshman in key positions, the Lady Chiefs have begun the season on fire. Sequoyah (15-1) rattled of seven victories in a row to start the season en route to winning the 28th annual Sequoyah Classic. The Lady Chiefs defeated county-rival Etowah in the tournament’s championship match and senior Allie Powers said the team’s ability to gel so quickly is what surprised her the most.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised we’ve been winning, because I knew we were going to be good. I just didn’t think we’d be this good, this fast,” Powers said. “I thought we would have to lead up to it and once we found our groove we would be good to go. I did not see winning the Sequoyah Classic coming at all.”
After winning the Sequoyah Classic for the second time in program history, the Lady Chiefs rattled off five more victories before beginning play in the annual All-City Playdate this past weekend. Sequoyah dropped its first match of the season on Saturday morning in a 2-0 loss to Alpharetta, but responded to defeat Johns Creek, Buford and Cambridge to close out the weekend tournament. All three victories were won 2-0 in straight sets.
“I think the girls understand that if we do everything we can, we’re going to have a chance against anybody,” Edwards said. “You never know how your team is going to respond after a close match like that, but we did a really good job of putting that one behind them and getting to the next opponent and playing.”
Edwards said freshmen Taylor Pecht, Skylar Martin, Sara Siefert and Catherine Brumbeloe have played exceptionally well to start the season. Edwards added that if he was surprised by anything, it was how much returning all-state junior Paige Powers has improved from her sophomore season.
“She’s even better than she was last year,” Edwards said. “I knew she would improve but she’s next level compared to last year in my opinion. She’s smarter and she hits the ball harder, so when you put those two things together, she’s pretty good. I didn’t know she’d get that much better that quickly.”
All four freshmen started for Sequoyah in its victory at the Sequoyah Classic and Edwards said Pecht and Martin in particular have impressed him with their knowledge and skill. The last Sequoyah volleyball team to begin a season with as many wins was the 2014 team which went on to claim the Class AAAAA state title. Edwards coached that team and said this year’s team is a little different, both in terms of expectations and personality.
“That 2014 team had six seniors and lost in the state championship the season before, so people expected us to be there the next year,” Edwards said. “This year’s team is a little more goofy because they’re younger, but they also know when it’s time to work. It’s a good mix, and I think that helps to keep the pressure off. It’s a good mix of being serious but not taking yourself too seriously, and that’s been good to see.”
Sequoyah will begin play in Region 6AAAAAA at 6 p.m. on Tuesday when the team travels to Allatoona for a tri-match with Osborne and Allatoona.