Now bumping up to the state’s largest classification (AAAAAA) the challenge of continuing that success has gotten harder.
But the results have been the same.
“We didn’t quite know what to expect this year after losing seven seniors, but we knew we had talent coming back and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well we have performed,” said head coach Beth Stephens, who helped start the varsity program four years ago.
“The girls know they are team with a little bit of a bulls-eye on their back now, but we’ve come out ready to compete and played well.”
Johns Creek went 48-10 last fall, eventually advancing to the Elite Eight of the AAAA state playoffs. Despite some significant losses to graduation, this year’s team picked up right where the 2011 edition left off.
Heading into area play, which started last night, Johns Creek was 18-3 and ranked No. 7 in AAAAAA according to the GACA coaches’ poll — sitting just behind Area 6 rivals South Forsyth and Chattahoochee.
“We want to win our area this year and head to state as a No. 1 overall seed, that is the ultimate goal,” said Stephens. “We know it won’t be a cakewalk because this area is so tough, but I like our chances because these girls are so fearless.”
That fearless nature comes from a wealth of experience on the court.
Seniors Sara Rogers, Emily Cappai and Hannah Collins all have over 130 varsity wins under their belt as four-year varsity players. Junior outside hitter Annika Olsen has brought her powerful stroke back to the starting lineup and Kate Gulley, another senior, has stepped into the lineup as a presence that was desperately needed following the loss of two starters on the front line.
“Their experience on the court makes a huge difference; they have all played together so long and they communicate so well on the court.”
“We aren’t quite as big as we have been but that experience makes up for it. These girls play hard enough to compete with anyone in the state.”
Area play will resume next Tuesday with a tri-match at South Forsyth.