Last year, four of the seven high school volleyball teams in Murray and Whitfield counties reached their respective state tournaments.
Dalton, North Murray, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield all qualified for state, and the latter’s postseason journey was the longest as the Lady Raiders advanced to the Class 4A semifinals during the deepest run in program history.
But Southeast has undergone plenty of change in the offseason — the Lady Raiders graduated three standout starters and have a new head coach — and so have other programs. While Georgia High School Assoc-iation teams were permitted to begin play this past Monday, Coahulla Creek will be the first local program to start its 2013 schedule when the Lady Colts take the court today for a play day at Sonoraville starting at noon.
Here’s a glance at local varsity programs as the season begins:
The Lions enter their second season of GHSA competition with changes on the coaching staff in addition to the starting lineup.
Robin Clement has taken over as head coach — she replaces Kim Parsons, who resigned shortly following the 2012 season after three years in charge — and Lisa Donahue has joined the staff as community coach, a role she held several seasons ago at Dalton.
The Lady Lions went 13-14 a year ago, including 1-6 against Area 4-A competition, and missed the Class A private school state playoffs. As Clement and Donahue try to help Christian Heritage improve on those results, they’ll count in particular on three returning starters — outside hitter Savannah Robertson, setter Jessica Seehorn and middle hitter Drew Tipton, who started for the first time last season.
All three are seniors, and Seehorn was a member of The Daily Citizen’s 2012 All-Area team after recording 208 kills, 176 assists and 107 aces.
“We didn’t lose any seniors from last season,” Clement said. “We lost one player, Jordan Suddath. She tore her (anterior cruciate ligament) and will be out (for the season). ... (Our players) have a lot of potential. ... They’re excited. Jessica, Savannah and Drew will provide a lot of leadership.
“We have a good junior class and a lot of leadership.”
Clement said the Lady Lions “had a tough schedule last year” — it included Southeast — as they finished below .500. She has been pleased with what she’s seen in offseason work, though, including a 5-3 finish during a recent camp at Covenant College, where the opponents included some nearby opponents as well as Chattanooga private schools.
Clement said the Lady Lions open the season Aug. 20 against Dalton.