Southeast High School Raiders

October 17, 2013

Southeast’s state volleyball victory not an easy job

Southeast Whitfield High School’s volleyball team made an adventurous — and for programs in Murray and Whitfield counties, unprecedented — run to the Class 4A state semifinals a year ago.

Against visiting Fayette County on Wednesday night, the Lady Raiders made an adventure out of just getting through the opening round.

Southeast swept the Lady Tigers in the best-of-five match as the Class 4A state playoffs began, but the Lady Raiders were far from dominant in the 25-21, 27-25, 25-18 victory.

“It was like a roller coaster with us, and it normally is,” senior outside hitter Serena Ramsey said. “We just have to keep each other up. ... We trusted each other and trusted our teammates to get us back up whenever we were down.”

Fayette County (22-14), the No. 3 seed from Area 3-4A, never held a commanding lead in any single game but also never seemed far from potentially causing a lot of trouble for Southeast (30-12), Area 7-4A’s No. 2 seed and the seventh-ranked team in the Class 4A coaches poll.

After winning a rally point to stretch their lead to 22-16 in the opening game, the Lady Raiders faulted their next serve and Fayette County’s Aaliyah Davis served her team to within 22-21 before Southeast stopped the comeback. Lady Raiders senior middle hitter Wendy Perez’s softly tipped kill finished the game, but not before Fayette County had served notice it intended to present a challenge.

The Lady Tigers kept pace even better in the second game and were up 24-22 before Southeast rallied, with the game ending on a shot down the left line by Ramsey, who finished the match with six kills. Fayette County led just once in the third game, at 10-9, but closed the gap to 18-17 before Southeast pulled away for good.

Lady Raiders coach Bethany Kenemer, who’s in her first season leading the program after previously serving as an assistant, readily acknowledged her team will have to be better to keep its season going beyond Tuesday’s second round. Southeast will travel to Atlanta to face Area 5 champion Marist, a 3-0 winner against West Laurens in the first round.

However, Kenemer also saw something in the way her players — only a few of whom saw extensive playing time during last year’s postseason run — found their resolve in the tough moments against Fayette County.

“We played probably the worst we’ve played in a while,” Kenemer said. “But we hung with it, we stayed with it and a win’s a win. That’s the thing — we’re in the Sweet 16.”

Kenemer said her team has made a habit of playing up or down to its competition this season, so she’s optimistic facing six-time Georgia High School Association state champion Marist (29-12) will be the challenge the Lady Raiders need. Southeast also should benefit from the return of senior libero Yasmeen Paloblanco, who is expected to be medically cleared Friday.

Paloblanco missed the Area 7-4A tournament in addition to Wednesday’s match after suffering a concussion when she was accidentally kicked in the head during competition. In her absence, freshman Melisa Fraire — normally a defensive specialist — stepped in to play the defensively focused position and tallied 16 digs against Fayette County.

But Ramsey and Perez said the Lady Raiders failed to communicate as well as they needed to without Paloblanco, whose ability to scramble for the ball makes that less of a necessity when she’s in the lineup.

“I didn’t think we played to the best of our abilities,” said Perez, who recorded a team-best 16 kills to go with 11 digs. “We’ve just got to talk a lot more.”

The Lady Raiders found their footing on more than one occasion with solid serving by sophomore outside hitter Tori Brock, who had a pair of aces, and sophomore setter Angie Purkey, who had five aces to go with 33 assists. More consistency from Fayette County might have made things even more interesting than the Lady Raiders would have liked.

“When we were able to get a good pass and a good set, we were effective,” said Lady Tigers coach Bill Lightle, whose team was in the state playoffs for the second straight year and improved on a 16-16 mark in 2012. “But we weren’t consistent with that all night long.”

Southeast’s postseason success a year ago was steered by a trio of seniors — McKayla Burse, Megan Collins and Hannah Graham — who earned individual accolades and took the program to new heights. With that group lost to graduation, it will be up to younger players to make a difference.

But all of the Lady Raiders now have experience in the state playoffs, and Kenemer is looking forward to seeing how they build on it.

“We had two freshmen out there and two sophomores who didn’t play varsity last year out there, so you’re looking at four players who are young and new, and even though the other girls have been in the state playoffs before, they haven’t,” Kenemer said. “Now that the first round is over, they should be (ready for) the second round.”

Gaby Gonzalez added eight kills for the Lady Raiders, while Yolanda Melgarejo had seven.

Text Only
Southeast High School Raiders
  • DHS at SE soccer 7 mlh.jpg Prep Roundup: Unbeaten streak rolls on for Cats

    Replicating the start of last year’s Class 4A state title match, Dalton High School’s boys soccer team needed just four minutes to score its first goal at Southeast Whitfield on Friday.
    The Catamounts scored five more — and again defended their crown of dominance in the sport.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Baseball Roundup: Raiders out of hunt for the playoffs

    Needing a win to keep Southeast Whitfield High School’s baseball season meaningful, Raiders coach Brad Lofton turned to a pair of senior pitchers on Friday at Heritage-Catoosa.
    The seniors didn’t disappoint, but it was the offense and the defense that couldn’t come through.

    April 12, 2014

  • Heritage at sE baseball 1 mlh.jpg Fight’s not over yet

    Southeast Whitfield High School baseball coach Brad Lofton felt like his team gave away the opening contest of a three-game Sub-region 7B-4A series on Wednesday at Heritage-Catoosa.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Roundup: Bruins power past Cats for key victory at home

    TUNNEL HILL — Similar to Wednesday’s Sub-region 7B-4A baseball series opener at Dalton High School, Northwest Whitfield fell behind early Thursday versus the Catamounts.

    April 11, 2014

  • Prep Roundup: Dalton golf teams in form at Fields Ferry

    Even in wet and muddy conditions, both the Dalton High School boys and girls golf teams are sharpening their games at the right time.
    With the Region 7-4A tournament scheduled in two weeks, both the Catamounts and the Lady Cats finished second during play at the Fields Ferry Invitational in Calhoun on Monday. Despite the soggy conditions, Dalton’s Jacob Brown tied for medalist honors with a 2-over par 74 to lead the Cats to a 313 combined score in the six-play, four-score format. Dalton finished three strokes behind tournament winner LaFayette.

    April 8, 2014

  • Wrestler of the year 2014 2 mlh.jpg All-Area Wrestling Team and Wrestler of the Year: Winning another title was the only goal for Wheeler

    When Dalton High School wrestler Sidney Wheeler won a state title for the first time two years ago as a sophomore, he admitted he became a little complacent about what it would take to replicate the feat — perhaps not noticeably so to most observers, but enough to take success for granted. Wheeler believed it a matter of course that he would win state again, and he thought the second title would simply be the middle child in a high school three-peat.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep Roundup: SE offense hot again, rolls 16-0

    Southeast Whitfield’s baseball team is back to scoring a lot of runs and winning consecutive games.

    March 27, 2014

  • Prep soccer: Morris boys earn Class 2A ranking

    It’s nothing new for a local high school boys soccer team to be among those in the state rankings.
    It is new for that team to be Morris Innovative.

    March 18, 2014

  • cchs tennis1.jpg Hungry for much more

    VARNELL — Coahulla Creek High School’s tennis teams aren’t letting much keep them from playing — and winning — this season.
    On Monday, they picked up their opponent before picking up another pair of victories.

    March 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Prep roundup: SE offense keeps foot on throttle

    As long as Southeast Whitfield High School’s baseball team continues to hit the ball and score runs the way it has so far this season, it really won’t matter what the defense does.
    Coach Brad Lofton still likes how the Raiders’ fielding is improving.

    March 11, 2014