The Lady Raiders began the season an unprecedented 11-0, which had many wondering if they’d ever take another loss. Weeks later, the tune has changed as the 17-8 Habersham Central team, while still very good, is now looking to peak again at the right time.
At 2-6 within area play, coach Lindsay Herrin’s girls aren’t really in a “must-win” situation for the final two area games against Dacula and Apalachee (since the region tournament will determine a playoff spot).
“I told the girls, ‘we just need to put ourselves in the best position possible heading into the region tournament,'” says Herrin. “As long as we’re playing our best October 11th and 13th [region tournament], that’s what really matters.”
Habersham opened the 2018 schedule with a blaze, blanking the first six opponents 2-0 before finally losing a set in a 2-1 win over Jefferson (a state-ranked team). The next four opponents were handled in familiar 2-0 fashion, giving the girls an 11-0 start.
“It was a great way to start the season, especially coming out with a new team,” says junior outside hitter Alexandra Shalikashvili. “We’re going to be the same group of girls next year too, so just to have that firm foundation to start with, it’s kind of cool.”
The girls are still a young group, but are seeking a third straight trip to state if they can pull it off. For Herrin, who has 158 wins in her eight seasons over the Lady Raiders feels this group has the makings to have a similar run to the 2016 26-win, Sweet 16 team.
“This year we have no seniors,” says Herrin. “We have seven juniors, and only three returning varsity starters. We really are a new team together, and this group of girls is different than any group I’ve ever had.”
The team has a Thursday night home tri-match with Chestatee and Tallulah Falls before facing Dacula and Apalachee on October 2.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure,” says junior libero Sydney Brookshire on keeping the streak alive of state playoff appearances. “We just really want this for ourselves. It would just be really nice to say when we get out of high school that we went to state all four years.”