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VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Taylor Svehla, South Forsyth
South junior was in the middle of team's success
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South Forsyth junior middle hitter Taylor Svehla is the 2013 All-County Volleyball player of the year. - photo by Brian Paglia

There was room for improvement for Taylor Svehla, of course, fine tuning in the pursuit of athletic perfection. So Svehla had more kills, more blocks, more stretches of dominant play than her stellar sophomore season a year ago when she started to stake her claim as one of Forsyth County’s top volleyball players.

But this season – as she helped lead South Forsyth top the best season in county history – Svehla began to realize her true impact on a match, a team, and by extension, a season.

"I think I’m a big emotional part of the team," Svehla said, "so when I get excited the rest of the team gets excited, or when I get down the rest of the team gets down."

Luckily, for the Lady War Eagles, few were the matches where Svehla felt down. The junior finished the season with 476 kills with a 30.7 hitting percentage, 142 digs, 108 blocks and 49 aces, numbers that only begin to explain why the 6-foot-2 middle hitter was named the 2013 All-County Volleyball Player of the Year by the county’s six head coaches.

Perhaps the pick isn’t surprising. After all, Svehla shared the award last year with Lambert’s Savannah Oaks as the Lady War Eagles advanced to the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals for the first time in school history. With Svehla and a core of seven seniors returning, the stage was set for South to build upon its historic season.

Somehow, they managed to live up to outside expectations, if not their own. The Lady War Eagles finished a program-best 48-13 and went one round better in the state playoffs, losing to eventual state champion Walton in the Class AAAAAA semifinals. South spent several weeks ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA by, won some of the state’s toughest weekend tournaments and hosted its own marquee play day.Along the way, Svehla asserted herself as a true impact player. Nineteen times Svehla had double-digit kills, including a season-high 15 against Chattahoochee on Oct. 1 that clinched the No. 1 seed for South in the Area 5-AAAAAA tournament.

When South returned to the state quarterfinals and faced Harrison, the perennial power that eliminated the Lady War Eagles in the same round last season, Svehla was a steadying presence with 11 kills, eight digs, five blocks and an ace

"I tried to work on being really positive all the time and keeping my attitude up," Svehla said. "It was always a challenge, but I think that each person has something that they need to work on. That was my personal thing."

"This year was really to come back together as a team and get farther than we’ve ever been before," Svehla said. "I was really proud of the way that we banded together as sisters. We worked through every practice and every match and just did our best."