When Greenbrier High School's volleyball team approached postseason play in the fall of 2005, junior starter Kelsey Sheron went down with a torn ACL and many thought the Lady Wolfpack season was over.
However, Greenbrier eventually emerged as the top squad after earning a region title and producing the best showing in the state tournament of all the local teams.
Greenbrier volleyball coach Debbie Born said the secret to the strong finish despite losing a key starter came from within the team.
"The girls stepped up, they knew their roles, and they were ready to take that spot," Born said. "That's probably the best thing about our program. They know when to fill that hole and really step up."
At the first day of tryouts for the 2006 season on Aug. 1, 40 girls showed up to fill the gaps in a Lady Wolfpack team that lost five seniors from last year's squad. The large turnout forced Born to have a series of cuts to narrow down the field. Born said assembling the final pieces of the roster was no easy task.
"The tryout process was grueling for me," Born said. "We really could have kept four more players."
Those remaining will be charged with defending Greenbrier's 2005 region title against the improving and more-experienced Evans and Lakeside teams in 2006. The Lady Wolfpack's attempt at a repeat will come without last year's star, Melissa Lewis, who moved into a spot on the Georgia Southern University volleyball team. Four other seniors from last season's squad are also gone.
"It's not a concern," Born said. "These girls have been paying their dues. They're standing in line. I have more Melissa Lewises this year."
Born said a large number of juniors should offset last year's graduating seniors. Younger newcomers also have a chance to make an immediate impact including 6-foot-2-inch sophomore Anne Czarnecki.
Sheron, now a senior, will make her comeback after recovering from last season's knee injury.
The 2006 team still has its question marks and popular opinion may give the advantage to Lakeside and Evans to begin the season. However, Born said her girls won't be scared of the underdog label.
"It makes my girls work harder. It makes them hungrier," Born said. "They're already talking about it."
The Greenbrier squad will get their first crack at Lakeside one week from today when Lakeside goes to Greenbrier for the first of two regular-season meetings between the two rivals.
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