But, that was last year.
It’s now a completely different season for the defending Class AA champions as they begin the 2013 campaign.
For Lovett coach Mary Buczek and her team, the focus is solely on the challenges awaiting them and not on their accomplishments of a year ago.
“We’re not really talking about [the state title],” Buczek said. “Every team is a little bit different and we really don’t want that pressure on this team. We’re really big about the process, not thinking about the end result. So, my big thing about this season is we don’t talk about last season, because we’re a different team. We’re out to figure out who we are.”
Outside hitter Harley Sebastian said she and her teammates do realize the added expectations that come with being the defending state champions.
“I guess you can kind of feel the pressure, because everyone will be out to get us,” Sebastian said. “But, I’m excited. It’s good to have [that pressure], because you can play at your highest level and show everyone why you won state.”
Lovett has a couple of big holes to fill in its lineup after losing libero Maggie Sinkler — last year’s AA player of the year who is now at Wake Forest — and setter Gayle Jenks from the team that beat archrival Westminster in the ’12 AA championship game.
“The setter and the libero are probably the two most important positions on the volleyball court and losing those two is significant,” Buczek said.
However, the Lions do have the rest of the core of last year’s team returning.
One of the key returners is Sebastian, a junior who has already committed to Virginia.
“She’s a 6-foot, 2-inch outside hitter who plays all the way around,” Buczek said. “She’s a primary passer for us, so we’re going to need her to play for us in the front row and the back row. That’s huge. She’s an exceptional serve receiver and that’s a big benefit.”
Mary Bethany Vincent, a 6-0 senior, also returns to team up with Sebastian and give Lovett a formidable duo at the outside hitter position.
“She really came into her own by the end of the season and with another year under her belt, I feel she’s more confident,” Buczek said. “She’s athletic and confident and she’s really matured.”
The Lions are also well fortified at the middle blocker position with Camilla Grayson and Janie Price.
“They’re both seniors and they’ve played in that state championship,” Buczek said. “Middle blockers are hard workers and we have two nice middle blockers.”
Senior Kennedy Crenshaw will also play a key role at the right side position.
While Buczek said most of the pieces are in place for another serious run at the state title, she added that her team still has a long way to go to get there.
“We’re in good shape, but it’s a process and we’re figuring out who we are,” she said. “Can we get there? Absolutely. Will we get there? That will be up to this team.”