From Staff Reports
Once again, Southeast Whitfield High School’s volleyball team is traveling to Marist to face a powerhouse program with the season on the line.
A year ago, when the Lady Raiders made the trip to Atlanta and played in the Lady War Eagles’ gymnasium, it was for the Class 4A semifinals, which Marist hosted. Southeast lost to Sandy Creek, the eventual state champion, while Marist lost the other semifinals match to Columbus.
The Lady Raiders and Lady War Eagles will be the only two teams in the gym for today’s 5:30 p.m. best-of-five match in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament. The winner advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals and will take on the winner of River Ridge and Woodland-Henry.
Marist (29-12) is ranked second in ga.prepcountry.com’s Class 4A coaches poll, which has Southeast (30-12) ranked seventh.
Lady Raiders coach Bethany Kenemer described the Lady War Eagles as “traditionally finishing (near the top) in the state” and having a lot of skilled players.
“They have a lot of girls who have been playing for a long time,” Kenemer said. “They definitely have a lot of experience.”
Marist, the Area 5 champion, reached the Class 4A state title match in 2009, losing to Whitewater. In 2010, the program reached the semifinals but missed the state tournament completely in 2011. The Lady War Eagles have appeared in 20 state title matches all-time and have won nine championships, including six since joining the Georgia High School Association.
Southeast, this year’s Area 7-4A runner-up, is in the second round of the state tournament for the fifth straight season.
Kenemer hopes having faced different — and demanding — styles of play this season will serve as good preparation for the Lady Raiders.
“We’ve played tough hitters and tough servers and tough teams before,” Kenemer said.
In first-round competition, Marist swept West Laurens and Southeast did the same against Fayette County. In the Class 4A bracket, there were no upsets as the first and second seeds won each match.
Kenemer and the Lady Raiders want to make sure there’s at least one upset today.
“We’re going to be the underdogs,” Kenemer said. “We have to go in with the mentality of having nothing to lose.”