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Volleyball preview: Pinecrest Academy at Hebron Christian Academy
Lady Paladins take on No. 2-ranked Lady Lions
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Keely Denkman and Pinecrest Academy get a rematch with No. 2-ranked Hebron Christian Academy in the first round of the Class A private school playoffs. Pinecrest lost a competitive three-set match to Hebron on Sept. 4. - photo by Micah Green

Pinecrest Academy at Hebron Christian Academy

When, where: Thursday, 7 p.m., at Hebron Christian in Dacula.

Records, rankings, seedings: Pinecrest is 24-17, unranked in Class A and the No. 4 seed from Area 4; Hebron is 39-7, No. 2 and the No. 1 seed from Area 6.

What to know: The Lady Paladins are back in the state playoffs after a year’s absence, and they did it with a team that blended the contributions of upper- and underclassmen.

At the forefront has been senior Keely Denkman, the All-Area 4-A honoree who is first on the team in kills (245) and aces (60) and second in digs (208). Senior Maggie Herd leads Pinecrest in digs (412). Senior Kristina Smoak leads the team in assists (321). But Pinecrest has also needed sophomores Gabby Wesemeyer (121 kills, 75 blocks, 116 digs, 270 assists), Adeline Seiferth (113 kills), 180 digs) and freshmen Caroline (72 kills, 122 blocks) and Catherine Clark (42 kills, 38 blocks) to develop during the season into significant contributors.

They figure to be tested by Hebron, the No. 2-ranked team in Class A – again. Pinecrest lost to Hebron, 16-25, 25-20, 25-10, back on Sept. 4, and the Lady Lions went on to capture the Area 6 championship. They’re led by senior Alli Johnson, who leads the team with 419 kills and 52 blocks, and Anna Katherine Wilson, who has a team-best 864 assists and 86 aces to go along with 359 digs.

What’s next: The winner will play the Whitefield Academy-Landmark Christian winner on Oct. 21.