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Lady Raiders volleyball using stout defense to exceed expectations
by Chase Wallace
September 26, 2012 12:05 AM | 2410 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Placed in one of the toughest areas in Class-AAAAAA and needing to fill a number of holes from last year’s team that won just 12 games, Alpharetta volleyball coach Kathryn Houghton-Ely entered the 2012 season with tempered expectations.

But an improved defense and strong sense to team unity have gone a long way.

With the area tournament on the horizon the Lady Raiders are 18-13 overall, are on track for their first winning season in six years and have the state playoffs on their mind.

“I’m extremely pleased with our season so far,” said Houghton, now in her sixth year as Alpharetta’s varsity coach. “I think we were expecting to be an average team but about midway through the summer I started to realize that the team chemistry was better than in years past.”

Led by senior captains Maddie Zide and Abbie Stinson, the Alpharetta coach said the 2012 team has clicked all season, using a combination of experienced players and talented newcomers to execute what she described as a simple and fundamental-based game plan.

“We win by playing as a team and trying to shut down the other team. As long as we stay focused and consistent, we can give any team a run.”

On the court Houghton labeled Zide, Stinson and junior Maddy Offenhauser as the leaders of the team.

Zide and Offenhauser bring an offensive threat to Alpharetta’s lineup at outside hitter while Stinson, a libero, leads a talented defense that includes strong front-line players Kylee Smith, Alexa Anderson, Nikki King and Sam Pineda.

“We always try to be the better defensive team and if we can consistently put the ball back on the other court we know we know we can frustrate teams that have a strong offense.

“We’ve stuck to the basics and it’s worked so far.”

Alpharetta will have their final area play-date at Lambert next Tuesday. The area tournament will commence the following week at Chattahoochee with the top four schools advancing to state.

“We wanted to have a winning season [coming into the year] and now our goal is to make in into the state playoffs, the competition is tough though and we know the area tournament will be a battle,” said the Alpharetta coach.

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