On Sept. 3, Kristina Smoak changed positions and teams on the same day.
Smoak had been captain of the Lady Paladins junior varsity volleyball team and its setter. But injuries had begun to mount on varsity, so Smoak was pulled up and moved to outside hitter for Pinecrest’s first area tri-match against Galloway and Mt. Pisgah.
The Lady Paladins swept the tri-match with two convincing wins.
"That shows what kind of players we have," Pinecrest senior Abbey Bohn said, "and how just having such a small team we have to be able to do everything. It’s stuff like that that’s made us better."
Pinecrest came into the Area 5-A tournament, which began last night for the Lady Paladins against Mt. Vernon Presbyterian, not quite the team it thought it would be at the beginning of the season.
The regular season was a tumult of injuries and adjustment. Junior Keely Denkman, last season’s all-area outside hitter, went down with a wrist injury. Bohn missed part of the season with a shoulder injury sustained during a powder puff football game. She’s back but not at 100 percent.
Pinecrest had designs of a veteran group taking the next step after the program’s first appearance in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs.
Instead, it was thrust into uncertainty.
"It’s just the way it goes," Pinecrest coach Meg Bohn said.
So Bohn adjusted.
Smoak was pulled up from junior varsity. Bohn tweaked the team’s offense to go through middle hitters Gabby Wesemeyer and Tessa Stubbs, a freshman and sophomore, respectively.
Somehow, the Lady Paladins didn’t miss a beat. They entered the area tournament 21-15 overall and the No. 3 seed in the tournament behind No. 3-ranked Holy Innocents’ and No. 10-ranked Fellowship Christian.
"We thought it was our year considering we had no seniors last year and we had all our positions set," senior setter Sofia Ferrari said. "We kind of had to take a turn with the injuries that we’ve had.
"It’s been a little bit difficult for us, but we’ve been able to turn it around just with the passion we all have for [volleyball] and our ability to work around what position we’re in."
"It was a big switch in the lineup with hitters and everything," senior libero Amanda Boyd said. "But I think everyone adjusted really well and everything tried to do what was best for the team to win."
Said Meg Bohn: "It’s working but it’s not what we thought we were going to be. It’s overcoming adversity. It’s playing the team you’re on not the team that you thought you were going to be."
Now, here is Pinecrest, a team through a metamorphosis eager to see if it can capture its first area tournament championship in the GHSA.
"We’ve been working real hard," Boyd said. "and we just want all our hard work to pay off."