This year is no different for Marist (13-8), which is ranked second in Class AAAA in the latest GACA/GaSports.com state poll.
Achieving that high state ranking has not come easy for a Lady War Eagle squad that features three freshmen in their lineup.
However, coach Kendall Reid-Webster’s squad does have enough upperclassmen to provide a veteran presence.
“It’s been a good year so far,” Reid-Webster said. “We have three freshmen on the team, but we do have some seniors and juniors, so it’s an interesting mix.”
Marist struggled early in the season, but the Lady War Eagles have come together and have surged in the last couple of weeks with seven wins in their last eight matches to rise up in the state rankings to their current No. 2 position.
“We got off to a rough start, but we’ve been playing some pretty good matches lately,” Reid-Webster said.
The Lady War Eagles also defeated Area 5AAAA foes Columbia (25-6, 25-4) and South Atlanta (25-2, 25-8) last Tuesday, then lost to Class AAAAAA powerhouse Chattahoochee (25-19, 19-25, 25-20) and beat Northgate (25-13, 25-2) last Thursday.
Marist definitely took its lumps early on in a rugged early season schedule that included two losses to 2011 Class AAAA state champion Pope as well as a couple of defeats to last year’s AAAA runner-up, Whitewater.
“We took some lumps early in the season, but it was good for the girls to experience that level of competition,” Reid-Webster said.
While it might not be the most talented team Marist has ever had, the Lady War Eagles use their strong defense as well as intense competitive drive to win their matches.
“We’re a tough, scrappy team,” Reid-Webster said. “We’re a good defensive team. We have one or two girls who are strong attackers at the net, but we don’t rely on them. It’s a very well-balanced team, with everyone contributing. The girls get along well together and they play so well together as a team.”
Senior middle blocker Alex Nagle is among the key players of a balanced Marist lineup that includes senior libero Julia Simon, senior setter Clara Horner and junior outside hitter Bailey Weiland.
With Marist dominating Area 6AAAA so far, the Lady War Eagles appear certain of a return trip to the Class AAAA state tournament — where Reid-Webster is confident that her team can make a good run.
“We can do well in the state tournament,” Reid-Webster said. “We can make it to the second round, third round, maybe the semifinals. We have a chance to do well.”