NORCROSS — This season saw the South Forsyth volleyball team fall out of its place in the top tier of Forsyth County. The War Eagles finished the regular season 15-24, lost to North Forsyth, Lambert and West Forsyth in the region schedule and drew a No. 3 seed in the state playoffs, putting the team on the road.
That can happen with a team that's significantly less experienced than past years and has also been hit by injuries. And that regular season record was partly a product of head coach Kelly Wren's aggressive approach to scheduling, as South wound up seeing most of the top programs in Class 7A before even facing North and Lambert, who also fall into that category.
"They've played against the best the whole season," Wren said of the War Eagles. "So they know how to win and they've learned from their mistakes, and they've been challenged ... We haven't executed like we have in the past, but we've been finishing strong towards the end of this season."
A record and a seed can't fully describe a team, and South emphatically proved that on Wednesday, rolling into Norcross and beating the Blue Devils in three sets, 25-18, 25-19, 25-10.
South (16-24) forced Norcross (22-23) into situations where the Blue Devils' follies looked similar to those of the War Eagles earlier in the year. The War Eagles notched 15 aces in the game, led by six from Sydney Forrest, and one 9-0 run in the second set was boosted by three aces from Forrest.
"We served aggressively," Wren said. "We knew they had shaky ball control. We knew they had big hitters, and if you allowed them to pass the ball, they were going to put the ball down, because they do have that ability, so our goal was to serve them out of system."
South also had a .250 hitting percentage in the match, improving on the .176 team percentage the War Eagles had carried into Wednesday, with senior Hannah McGlockton scoring 10 kills on 20 attacks with five errors.
McGlockton is one of South's five seniors, down from the eight that the War Eagles had last year. But at this point in the year, that difference, and the distinction between the more and less experienced members of the members of the team, doesn't mean as much.
"I think we've improved playing actually as a team," McGlockton said. "Because at the beginning (of the season), we played individually. Now we're playing together, we're playing as a team, and we've bonded."