Augusta Prep volleyball coach Rich Bland discovered the lasting affect of winning a state championship last week. That's when Bland held tryouts for the Lady Cavaliers volleyball program. Augusta Prep won the GISA Class AAA state volleyball title last year.
This year, everybody wants a piece of another title.
"We had 30 percent of the female students at Augusta Prep tryout for volleyball," Bland said. "That's a testament to how hard the girls have worked. Five years ago, we had eight girls on the varsity team. Now look. This is the first time ever we've had to make cuts."
He cut the line at 11 girls on varsity and 12 girls on the junior varsity squad. That's the number he'll take as the Lady Cavaliers begin what they hope will garner another state championship.
"There is no hope we win. We have to win," Augusta Prep senior Nicole Abbott said. "If it doesn't happen, we'll be very disappointed."
That's the popular opinion on a team of girls who seemed excited to start the first official week of practices last week. They'll begin regular-season play with a match against Memorial Day School on Aug. 29. Augusta Prep is itching to defend its state title, but it will be more than two months before the GISA volleyball state championships return to the school's Boardman Gymnasium on Oct. 27.
Keeping the girls motivated and patient until then is on the top of Bland's to-do list.
The most concentrated competition of the year will be at the Augusta Prep Invitational. All four GISA Class AAA state semifinals teams will attend the two-day tournament, along with North Augusta and Aiken high schools.
"It's the best lineup we've ever had for our tournament," Bland said. "In order for us to compete at the highest level, we've got to play those types of teams to make us better. If we do that, we'll be ready when we see that competition at the state tournament."
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