Last season was a year of self-discovery for Pinecrest Academy’s volleyball program.
The team had to make an unexpected head coaching change in late July—just days before the first game—when then-head coach Meg Bohn stepped down to deal with family matters. Middle school coach Sandy Seiferth, the mother of outside hitter Adeline Seiferth, was thrust into the new role. Just when the team had adjusted to the head coaching change they were battered with injuries—junior Gabby Wesemeyer, sophomore Catherine Clark and libero Brooke Miller all were sidelined for the entire season.
Still, somehow, the Lady Paladins were a match away from meeting their goal of getting into the state playoffs. They finished 2015 with a respectable 19-17 record and actually were 3-1 against Mt. Pisgah including regular season and region tournament games.
But the lone loss to Mt. Pisgah came at the worst possible time—the decisive match in the area tournament that would make or break their qualification for the postseason.
“I think the girls were really hurt by that, and it’s a big motivator this season,” Seiferth said. “Still, when I look at that record I think it’s pretty good. Considering everything I think we had a great season, but we can do more.”
Pinecrest is still trying to break through the ceiling that is that elusive first-round playoff victory. The program has a strong history since 2004, winning four area titles and making nine trips to the postseason—including a state championship in 2009. But, those greatest accomplishments came as part of the Georgia Independent Schools Association. Since joining the Georgia High School Association in 2010 the program has not won an area title and is 0-3 in the playoffs.
Adeline Seiferth and Gabby Wesemeyer were sophomores on the varsity team the last time the Lady Paladins made a postseason appearance. With Wesemeyer returned 100-percent healthy, according to her head coach, the team hopes it can bounce back despite those lingering injuries.
“One of the first things when we had team camp last week was those girls said right away they want to win region and they want to win state,” Seiferth said. “I think last year they went in as a three seed in the region tournament and thought like they had state, then all of a sudden they didn’t. So that’s going to push them.”
The younger Seiferth returns with a top-five hitting percentage in Class A last season (.339), while junior Caroline Clark—the twin of the injured Catherine—led Class A in blocks with 116. Junior setter Vanessa Fowler was ranked top-10 in assists.
The talent is there, but Seiferth thinks that entering the season more calm will pay off as well.
“I’ve been working non stop for a year really,” Seiferth said. “There’s a big difference for me from last season, not knowing I’d be coaching, to now. Much more prepared. I’ve worked on scheduling, making sure we play the types of teams we want, mixing home and away matches. We’ve got to prepare for Walker and Whitefield this year under the new classification.”
The team prepared this summer with a visit to Auburn for a camp. There, they adopted a warm-up routine and a whiteboard they set on the baseline of the gym with the team goals written out. In July they went to Johns Creek for a summer tournament and came away with wins over North Forsyth and West Forsyth.
“We all have skills, everyone on this team brings something,” Seiferth said. “The challenge between now and the start of the season is finding a way to make all of those things come together.”